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Cloquet City Council sets preliminary levy for 2023

The Cloquet City Council passed a preliminary levy with an increase of 6.5% for 2023, to include some room before a final levy is set in December.

Cloquet city hall sign.jpg
Cloquet City Hall.
Dylan Sherman/ 2022 File / Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — The Cloquet City Council voted to set a preliminary levy of $3.45 million for 2023 during its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The levy is a 6.5% increase compared to the previous year, which was $3.24 million.

The council voted 5-0 in favor of the levy, with Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge absent.

City Administrator Tim Peterson said the levy adopted by the council was slightly higher, by $17,000 in the general fund, than what had been discussed at a previous meeting.

Peterson recommended the higher levy amount in the case of any expenses were to increase, as staff had noted previously that health insurance costs had not been finalized yet.

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"This would give us a little bit of added wiggle room," he said.

The total 2023 proposed tax levy amount will be $3.43 million compared to the $3.24 million in 2022.

The council had heard a proposal of a levy that would have been a 5.97% increase, or $3.43 million, during its meeting on Aug. 16.

Peterson said once preliminary levies are set they cannot be raised, and he said if there are no unforeseen increases he intends to recommend certifying the $3.43 million levy in December.

"We would go back down to our break-even point for our budget," he said.

The largest increases for the upcoming year are with the police and public safety department. According to the proposed budget, there is a 5.7% increase in funding from $3.52 million to $3.72 million, an increase of $200,000.

Some of the increases within the department include higher health insurance costs of $13,000 — an increase of 5% over last year — and $78,700 increase to wages and benefits — a 3.31% increase over last year.

Peterson said there is an increase in workers' compensation of $87,000, and the city budgeted too low in 2022 at $64,000.

While the city is anticipating a net loss of $416,000 and $150,000 in 2023 and 2024, Peterson said the city will be using American Rescue Plan Act funds to balance its budget.

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"We are projected to break even with that ARPA funding included," he said.

In other business, the city held a hearing on Aug. 25 to certify its appraisal of the Solem Hotel.

According to Peterson, the appointed panel of appraisers did confirm the city's $8,000 determination.

Peterson said testimony was provided by city staff, but there was no representation from the building owner, who still has a chance to appeal the determination.

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Related Topics: CLOQUETCLOQUET CITY COUNCILGOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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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