Cloquet holds tax levy increase to zeroCloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously approved the city’s 2013 budget, a modified capital improvement plan and the property tax levy payable in 2013 at Tuesday’s council meeting.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously approved the city’s 2013 budget, a modified capital improvement plan and the property tax levy payable in 2013 at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The levy was set at $2,650,000, a zero percent increase from last year and the year before that. The city’s general fund budget was set at just over $4.5 million, with the total budget coming in at $14,052,085.
However, that doesn’t mean all property owners will see exactly the same charges on the Cloquet portion of their property taxes next year. Some – especially those people whose homes and/or businesses were affected by the June flood and were assessed at a lower rate as a result – will pay less money to the city this year. Other property owners could see an increase.
Major projects proposed for 2013 include the following:
- Skyline Boulevard reconstruction – $265,000
- Arthur, Adams, Agate Street mill and overlay – $200,000
- Second Street cul-de-sac reconstruction – $113,000
- Allen Street lift station reconstruction – $200,000
- Pinehurst Park tennis court resurfacing and other modifications – $60,000
- 11th Street parking lot construction downtown – $100,000
- Miscellaneous street overlays – $200,000
There were no significant changes from the preliminary levy and budget approved in September, although one street project (Jasper Street) was delayed so other projects (the Second Street project and overlay work on Spring Lake Road and Armory Road) could be completed in advance of 2014 reconstruction work on Highway 33 planned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
City Administrator Brian Fritsinger noted that city officials deliberately left any other parks improvements – beyond the Pinehurst tennis courts – out of the budget because work on the city’s master parks plan is still being developed.
As part of the budget, city salaries are projected to increase by 2.5 percent along with any step increases identified under the city’s pay plan. As well, health insurance premiums are increasing by 6.7 percent. Water rates are expected to remain the same, although sewer rates will likely increase by about 3.4 percent mid-2013, Fritsinger said.
Councilors were given the option of passing a budget with or without studies on housing and marketing/branding for the city.
They chose to pass the budget with money allocated for the two studies – unanimously.
“I think both these studies are very important for the future of Cloquet,” Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said.
As part of the last City Council meeting of the year, Ahlgren also read declarations honoring Councilors Mark Roberts and Barb Wyman for their service.
Roberts was appointed to serve as Ward 5 City Councilor when Deb Hill moved away in 2011.
Wyman, who was elected four years ago to the at-large council seat, did not run for re-election because of a law change that prohibits city employees – Wyman works in the city’s engineering department – from holding elected city offices.
Both Roberts and Wyman thanked the council and citizens for the opportunity and promised to stay active in the community.
Wyman had one more promise.
“I may retire in three or five years,” she said. “And I’ll be back.”
Look in next week’s Pine Journal for a story on the city’s newest Tax Increment Financing District and plans for a new apartment building on 14th Street near Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.