The Brainerd City Council met in a workshop Nov. 22 to discuss the proposed 2022 tax levy and the needs of the city.
In September, the council set the preliminary levy at a 2% increase over the 2021 levy at $6,255,826, which equated to an additional $122,663.
Focused on the city's working funds during Monday’s meeting, the council looked at adjusting the general fund, public safety, parks and streets to bring the budget in line with the proposed levy of 2%.
The budget process includes trying to estimate all expenses and all of the non-tax revenues, with the difference between the two being the levy needed.
The current proposed levy for 2022 shows that it would need to be increased by $128,302 or 2.09% from the 2021 levy for a balanced budget.
During the workshop, Connie Hillman, Brainerd’s finance director, said with the city’s increase for 2022 capped at 2% the council would need a cut of $5,639 from the budget to fall within the proposed operating budget.
Cuts to the budget came from making minor adjustments to various budget items, removal of the hydrant levy and updating the estimated revenue numbers.
“Cutting $5,000 to $6,000 isn't going to be hard,” council member Mike O'Day said. “I would like to see (a tax rate) under 70%. If there's anything that staff can locate that we don't need, cut the fat."
The estimated 2022 tax rate with a 2% levy increase would be 70.653%, a decrease of 2.776% from 2021.
Council members Tad Erickson, Gabe Johnson and O'Day said they would have liked to see the levy at about 1% but were content with the 2% increase.
The workshop agreed to maintain the 2% levy increase during the city's working funds levy meeting.
The other funds, recycling, library and parking lots, will be discussed at the Dec. 6 council meeting.
In other business, the council:
Approved the interim use permit to operate a warming shelter for the homeless at 1926 S. 7th Street. The permitting of the shelter was contingent on the following conditions.
The interim use permit shall expire on June 1, 2022.
If the Brainerd Police Department determines the facility has been used in a disorderly manner and upon the recommendation of the police chief, the interim use permit can be brought before the city council meeting for review.