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Preliminary 2019 budget, tax levy passes

The Cloquet City Council unanimously passed its proposed 2019 budget and tax levy Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The budget resolution shows estimated 2019 revenues at $21,207,800 in revenues and $26.8 million in expenditures, a difference of just over $5.5 million.

City Finance Director Nancy Klassen said the bulk of the difference is approximately $4 million the city is taking from its reserves to finance the purchase and renovation of the Members Cooperative Credit Union building, which it plans to use as a combined city hall and police station next year.

Another $1 million is for paying off the final business park bonds from reserves. Approximately $500,000 is due to various capital projects, she said.

The proposed tax levy was set at $3.1 million — a 1 percent increase over last year's tax levy.

Taxes don't cover all of the bills because the city has a variety of funding sources.

For example, the local property tax levy covers 31 percent ($2.31 million) of the city's general fund revenues, while local government aid (LGA) from the state makes up 34 percent ($2.5 million) of funds.

Those are the two biggest single sources of revenue for the general fund, with other sources, like licences and permits, fines and forfeits, charges for services, other intergovernmental revenues and more making up the other one-third.

On the expenditure side, police department funding takes up the biggest slice of the general fund expenses, at 36 percent ($3.1 million), while public works gets the next biggest piece at 21 percent ($1.8 million) in 2019. All other city departments fall in the 2-8 percent range.

The council also scheduled to adopt the final 2019 budget and tax levy Dec. 4. The tax levy can go down then, but is limited to a maximum 1 percent increase after the vote Tuesday.

In other matters Tuesday, the council:

• Approved a project manager agreement with Boldt Construction for the new combined City Hall and police department building after Members Cooperative Credit Union moves out.

• Approved agreements with Carlton County, on behalf of townships, as well as the cities of Scanlon and Carlton to house any dangerous animals in the city's three new kennels. If there are ever more than three at a time, City Administrator Aaron Reeves said the city has a backup agreement with Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth.

• Approved a change order for pedestrian crossing signals that will also include audible commands for people with visual impairments, like the ones currently installed at crossings along Minnesota Highway 33.