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Cloquet Area Fire District Board sets preliminary operating budget and levy for 2023

The approved tax levy for 2023 incorporates the recommended cost allocation between fire and ambulance services in the district.

Cloquet Area Fire District headquarters
Cloquet Area Fire District Headquarters.
Jamey Malcomb / 2020 file / Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — The Cloquet Area Fire District Board approved its preliminary operating budget and property tax levy for 2023, during its meeting Thursday, Sept. 21.

The approved budget has a 11.95% increase in expenditures compared to the previous year, which is an increase of $618,645.

Fire Chief Jesse Buhs said the increased costs are made up of price increases due to inflation, increased staffing levels and insurance increases.

"It really speaks to what it costs to operate today," he said.

The total levy for the district was approved at $3.75 million, which is an increase of $613,515 compared to last year.

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Buhs said the levy was calculated using the recommended split between fire and ambulance costs Fitch & Associates, a financial consultant, had made to the district.

"It makes us feel comfortable that it is accurate and correct at the appropriate allocation for the cost of the service," he said.

The recommendation comes after the district hired a financial consultant to look into the cost of its fire and ambulance services.

The impact the levy will have on a $200,000 home is dependent on if the home receives both services or just ambulance services.

A $200,000 home receiving both services will see their taxes increase by $39 to $476, compared to $437 the previous year.

The same home receiving just the ambulance service, will see its taxes raise by $54 to $98 compared to $45 the previous year.

The district set its truth in taxation meeting for Dec. 8, where residents will have the chance to ask questions about the levy.

Buhs said a representative from Fitch & Associates is expected to be present to answer questions from the community about the cost allocations.

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Unlike schools and cities that set preliminary levies that can only be lowered, as the district is considered a special taxing district, Buhs said it can raise or lower its levy in December.

However, Buhs said the budget strategy was to set the preliminary budget and levy as accurate as possible and only adjust as needed.

"As a practice our principal is that we set the budget, we hold to it and only make these incremental changes if we have to," he said.

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Related Topics: CLOQUETCARLTON COUNTY
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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