Council approves 2011 budget, levyThe Cloquet City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the 2011 budget and tax levy.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The Cloquet City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the 2011 budget and tax levy.
The final budget remains mostly unchanged from the proposed budget brought to the councilors in September. The total budget for 2011 comes to about $12.3 million in expenditures with nearly $12.2 in revenues.
While the budget is close to balanced, it is partly due to the 2011 tax levy for $2.65 million. Around $1.1 million of that money will go toward the general fund, $440,000 to the library and $300,000 to parks. Funds from the levy make up only a little more than 21 percent of the city’s budgeted revenues.
There are also fewer city projects budgeted for 2011, with just a few road construction projects and purchases of some street equipment.
“Projects are fairly minimal in terms of dollar wise,” said City Administrator Brian Fritsinger. “We are trying to be a bit more conservative.”
Councilors were worried about poor financial forecasts for the state budget that came out in November, but reports came back more positive than expected for the current biennium.
However, the state forecast for the 2012-2013 biennium was actually worse than expected and shows a state deficit of anywhere from $6 to $7 billion.
In a move to address future anticipated Local Government Aid cuts – LGA is a payment from the state of Minnesota that helps cities “buy down” property taxes – the city budgeted $700,000 less ($1.7 million) in next year’s budget than the $2.4 million Cloquet was certified for.
Other items of interest in the 2011 budget
• There were no utility rate increases budgeted for 2011 (water rates increased this year).
• There was an overall 7 percent decrease in expenditures compared to this year’s budget.
• There will be an 8 percent increase in cost for dental insurance for city employees, but less than a 1 percent increase in health insurance costs.