Cloquet City Council approves 6.23% levy increase for 2023
The approved increase of 6.23% is lower than the preliminary budget that was approved at a 6.5% increase in September. City staff said this was due to health care estimates coming in under budget.
CLOQUET — The Cloquet City Council approved its budget and levy for 2023, with a 6.23% levy increase compared to last year, during a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6.
City Administrator Tim Peterson said not much had changed from the preliminary levy that was adopted in September.
However, due to health insurance increases coming in under budget, Peterson said the total property tax levy was reduced from $3,450,825 to $3,443,090.
The reduction dropped the increase from the 6.5% to 6.23%.
"It is not quite as low as we were hoping to get it down to," he said. "However, it is lower than the amount proposed on the statements that were mailed out."
Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge asked why the revenues and expenditures showed that the city might be deficit spending.
The approved budget has revenues of $19,950,310 and expenditures of $21,112,092.
Peterson clarified that revenues that were received in previous years are not included as revenues for 2023.
Peterson gave examples of American Rescue Plan Act funding that was being used to cover $116,000 of the budget and pay for $300,000 of the city's broadband project, and since they were received in previous years they are not listed as revenues for 2023.
In other city news, the council approved a motion to accept applications for the vacant Ward 3 councilor position.
Peterson had previously stated the council had two options, to appoint a candidate themselves or hold a special election to fill the seat until the next general election.
The seat was vacated by previous Councilor Chris Swanson, who resigned in August after moving outside of his ward.
Swanson was running for reelection, and due to the timing of his resignation, could not get his name removed from the ballot before he won over two write-in candidates for the seat.
Peterson said the last special election to fill an opening, for the same council seat, had 100 votes cast out of 1,300 registered voters, making it not very economical.
Councilors discussed how they would like to appoint members, ranging in ideas from selecting between the two write-ins who expressed interest in the seat to opening it up to anyone interested.
After a brief discussion, councilors agreed that they would like to open it up to all interested in applying for the position.
Mayor Roger Maki said with Swanson resigning in August, before the election in November, there was not enough time for people interested to campaign for it.
Those interested in applying with have a month to submit their applications, as the council is looking to hold candidate interviews during the second council meeting in January.
The appointed term would last until the November 2024 general election.