Cloquet City Council gets first peek at next year’s budgetCloquet City Council members were presented with a draft of the 2011 budget at Tuesday night’s council work session. The grand total of all expenditures for the city of Cloquet in 2011 is estimated to be $12,282,520. That is down from the 2010 budget of $13,224,830.
By: Brittany Berrens, Pine Journal
Cloquet City Council members were presented with a draft of the 2011 budget at Tuesday night’s council work session.
The grand total of all expenditures for the city of Cloquet in 2011 is estimated to be $12,282,520. That is down from the 2010 budget of $13,224,830.
This first rough draft is not quite the budget that some council members hoped for. In earlier discussions, a plan was to rebuild the budget from zero and go through a prioritization process when putting the budget back together.
While the budgeting process hasn’t radically changed from last year, City Administrator Brian Fritsinger was confident with this approach.
“We haven’t really left any stones unturned,” said Fritsinger.
The draft included a property tax levy increase of a minimum of 4.12 percent. That would mean the city would collect approximately $2,655,000 in 2011, as opposed to the $2,550,000 estimated to be collected in 2010.
The increase left Councilor Barb Wyman a bit unsettled. Her concern was for Cloquet residents whose budgets were already stretched thin because of hard economic times.
“On a whole, I think residents would agree with having services cut rather than having a tax increase,” said Wyman.
Wyman and others asked that, when looking at the next round of budget drafting, the tax levy increase move closer to zero percent.
The hardest part of working on the budget,
said Fritsinger, is the state’s reluctance to deal with budget issues.
“The state wants to bury its head and hope the economy turns around,” said Fritsinger.
Because of reduced Local Government Aid payments from the state, Fritsinger wrote in his budget draft, “From here on out the challenge in crafting a budget can be focused on reduced services and minor tweaking that would enhance certain services but reduce cost. There is no magic bullet.”
The 2011 draft budget was created with an estimated reduction in LGA by $270,000.
What was presented on Tuesday night was just a first draft of the budget. The city budget will continue to be a regular item on work session meetings for the city council.
In other actions, the council unanimously approved having the Cloquet Police Department enter into a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for the Safe and Sober Communities project which starts Oct. 8. The Fond du Lac Police Department and Cloquet Police Department will equally share $12,000 in grant monies to pay for officer overtime during the extra enforcement.
The council also heard from community members during a public hearing on the proposed improvement to Avenue D west of Chestnut Street. All five community members present felt the total reconstruction of that portion of the street was a good idea, as old infrastructure caused flooding of yards during heavy rains. Council members estimated that infrastructure below the street was at least 100 years old.
The next Cloquet City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3.