Cloquet City Council to vote on preliminary budget
Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren will likely vote on a preliminary city budget and property tax levy at the 7 p.m. Sept. 16 City Council meeting. After holding the levy at a zero percent increase for the past several years, prelimi...
Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren will likely vote on a preliminary city budget and property tax levy at the 7 p.m. Sept. 16 City Council meeting.
After holding the levy at a zero percent increase for the past several years, preliminary figures show the levy could increase by up to 3 percent, as the city looks at hiring two additional police officers and an assistant public works/parks director to take charge of the parks system and help the Public Works department in other ways.
“This position would help with development, permitting, making sure projects get done in the parks system,” City Administrator Brian Fritsinger told Councilors during last Tuesday’s work session, adding that Assistant City Engineer Caleb Anderson has been overseeing the parks but both he and City Engineer/Public Works Director Jim Prusak are maxed out.
Fritsinger said the proposed new position will help take some pressure off the city engineers while also fulfilling job duties that might fall to a parks director in a city with a Parks and Recreation department.
Revenue from the local option sales tax can’t be used to fund administration, only projects, Fritsinger added, referring to the half-percent sales tax that was passed by residents to help fund parks, economic development and infrastructure projects in the city of Cloquet.
A parks maintenance position was also added to the budget for next year.
Between the four positions, it will cost the city close to $300,000 in total wages and benefits.
Other increased costs include health insurance increases of 15 percent, plus minimum wage increases for part-time and seasonal help.
Once the levy and budget numbers are passed by the mayor and councillors they can go down but increase when the final budget is adopted in December.
The tax increase could end up smaller, depending on the assessed value of the homes and businesses in Cloquet.
“Our tax rate went down in 2014 because the taxable market value went up for the first time since 2009,” said Cloquet Finance Director Nancy Klassen. “So we could approve a 3 percent increase to the levy and if the taxable market value went up we could actually have a smaller tax rate increase.”