The city of Wyoming has approved a 2018 preliminary levy that signals a decrease in city spending next year.
On Sept. 19, Gail Bauman of AEM Financial Solutions addressed the Wyoming City Council about the upcoming tax season. In the preliminary budget and levy presented to the council, the general fund levy decreased by 9.35 percent (from approximately $3.24 million in 2017 to $2.93 million in 2018), and the overall levy, which includes the general fund levy is decreasing by 5.76 percent ($4.25 million to $4.01 million).
“There may have been something budgeted for in 2017 that wasn’t needed,” Bauman said.
The city’s Local Government Aid from Minnesota is also set to increase. “The annual LGA appropriation was increased by $15 million (from $519.4 million to $534.4 million). This is effective for aids payable in 2018 and thereafter,” Bauman said. “Under the new law, the city of Wyoming is scheduled to receive $236,943 in LGA for 2018 compared to $204,738 in 2017. The 2018 LGA will be used to fund Capital Expenditures.”
“I never advocate using LGA for operations,” Bauman added. “I would use it for capital items; they can be deferred if need be.”
The city tax rate will drop from 55.25 percent to 49.29 percent, which means that if a Wyoming property owner’s property retains the same value from 2017 to 2018, his or her city taxes will still fall.
There was little discussion on this preliminary tax levy. Councilwoman Linda Nanko-Yeager and Councilman Don Waller voted against its passage, but the other three council members voted in favor.
Once the preliminary levy is set, it can only go down or say the same before it is approved in its final version in September. It cannot be raised from its preliminary level.
Mayor Lisa Iverson said, “I am pretty excited about this one,” Mayor Lisa Iverson said about a city proclamation naming Oct. 1-7 Manufacturer’s Week.
Manufacturing jobs account for 19 percent of all private sector employment in Chisago County. Iverson said that the city of Wyoming holds about 30 percent of the county’s manufacturing jobs.
City Administrator Robb Linwood told the Council that on Oct. 2, the entire sixth grade class of Wyoming Elementary will visit Regal Machine, have lunch at Split Rocks and then tour Rosenbauer. That is about 65 to 75 kids that will be learning about manufacturing jobs in the area.
“Outreach was requested by the state. … Those companies are excited to participate,” Linwood added.
Park name in question
The Chisago County and national guidelines for naming of parks normally follow a pattern of being named after, “someone who is deceased, contributes 50 percent of the development costs of the park or donated all the land,” according to a memo from the city’s Park Board. The city of Wyoming currently does not have its own guidelines, which is a problem when it comes to the name of the park on the northwest corner of Viking Boulevard and Highway 61.
The park had been named Railroad Park. But according to Iverson, “[In] 2009 when the township and city were coming together, Mayor [Sheldon] Anderson and Roger Elmore thought it would be a good faith gesture that we should name a park after someone in the township and someone in the city.”
Neil Gatzow, a longtime former mayor of Wyoming, was the citizen from the town the park was named after. Norm Tolzmann was the representative for the Township. Tolzmann Park still stands.
In 2010, the park was officially named Gatzow Park. Then, in 2014, the Town Board voted to remove the name Gatzow and return it to its original name: Railroad Park.
“Giving an honor and taking it away is extremely petty,” Yeager said. “That national guidelines are a little different and Chisago county [shouldn’t matter]. Here in our community, we have named parks for living people. It was unanimous. I look at it more as a slight than a political move.” Yeager was the dissenting vote in the 4 to 1 vote the returned the name of the park to Railroad Park.
“Obviously, he [Gatzow] contributed a lot of the community,” Councilwoman Claire Luger said. “So have a lot of other people. I think we should table this and allow the park board to come up with their own guidelines.”
Councilman Joe Zerwas was on the board for both votes.
“We didn’t have any ideas the regulations at the time we passed it,” Zerwas said. “We don’t have a policy; maybe we should put it back [to parks].”
Waller and Yeager strongly urged the board to “right a wrong.” Waller said that it was an honor that was taken away and the act was “dishonorable” and “disrespectful.”
“We are being put in a position to solve something that wasn’t transparent,” Iverson said. “And we are here to be problem solvers. I think we should table it and send it back to the park board, and maybe if they make a policy that Neil Gatzow will meet the requirements, … we can rename it after him. It is dishonorable; I agree with that.”
The council voted 3-2 to send the matter back to the Parks Board. Yeager and Waller opposed.