The Cloquet City Council unanimously approved a small property tax increase for 2021 during its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The council approved a total levy of approximately $3.1 million, an increase of $87,800 — or about 2.9% — over the 2020 levy. The additional levy dollars cover an increase in operating costs for the city and some planned purchases in 2021.

The levy also decreased about $34,000 over the preliminary levy set in September.

The operations levy increase of approximately $43,000 will cover expected increases in health insurance costs, as well as expected wage and contractual increases next year. Most of the remainder of the levy increase is an increase in the public works budget to pay for the replacement of the playground equipment at Pinehurst Park.

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The council also approved its 2021 proposed budget, which projects approximately $17.9 million in revenue and $19.5 million in expenditures. Despite the differences in revenue and expenditures, City Administrator Tim Peterson said much of the deficit is covered by sales tax and revenue the city has already collected and intends to spend on projects in 2021.

The preliminary budget showed a net loss of $37,500. However, Peterson said the council chose to delay the project causing the deficit for a few years, creating a projected balanced budget for 2021.

The city held its budget presentation and truth in taxation hearing during the meeting, but no members of the public spoke

Peterson praised Business Manager Nancy Klassen and other city staff for their work putting together the budget, Peterson’s first as city administrator.

“I’d just like to thank Nancy for putting all this together — great job, it really went smoothly,” Peterson said. “This year, working with all the department heads, everybody had their budgets in line. We didn’t really need to work on much.”

This post was updated at 3:33 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, with an updated budget projection. It was originally posted at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1.