Only one Brainerd resident attends and speaks at truth and taxation hearing
One Brainerd resident raised questions over the steep increase on his proposed taxes for next year. At a truth and taxation public meeting for the proposed 2015 budget, Max Day was the only resident to attend and speak to the council. He raised i...
One Brainerd resident raised questions over the steep increase on his proposed taxes for next year.
At a truth and taxation public meeting for the proposed 2015 budget, Max Day was the only resident to attend and speak to the council.
He raised issue with the extra $100 he'll likely be spending on his city taxes for 2015.
"Why can't we come down to a cost of living increase on the city?" he asked.
The Brainerd City Council has met in several special budget workshops to get the proposed levy down to the previously approved preliminary levy, which was recently set at $4,898,845, with $116,550 for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
That's a 10 percent increase over last year.
At the council's regular Dec. 15 meeting, the group is expected to adopt a final levy for 2015.
At Monday's meeting, finance director Connie Hillman reviewed the council's progress in pulling together the budget. She also explained what goes into the budget and where the money goes.
When Day posed his questions, city administrator Patrick Wussow explained a cost of living levy increase was "feasible" but the council chose this route.
Day acknowledge he's not familiar with all the needs and everything that goes into the budget, but he was "shocked" when he saw the percent increase.
City council member Mary Koep agreed that city leaders need to look to make budget adjustments and alterations year-around.
"Ordinary people can't go on like this," she said.
Koep said city leaders need to keep a sharp eye on finances all year around, not just starting in July when the budget work starts.
A special eye needs to be kept on personnel structure, she said, as that's the biggest expense.
"There are some changes the city needs to make or we will be going through this every year," she said.
Day asked if the raising taxes was a trend.
City council president Dale Parks said the city doesn't want taxes to keep going up.
"I do believe the goal is to not go up as much. Of course there are things that are beyond our control," he said, noting that there are some things that they do have control over that will have to be looked at.
The council approved several cuts and revenue increases during the special workshops leading up to Monday.
At previous meetings, some items the council discussed for the chopping block included grant matching funds, some strategic initiative funds, and some professional development.
The council also approved a one-year trial period for an extra information technology (IT) staff member at the cost of $11,000, instead of $70,000 for hiring another person and $100,000 for contracted vendors.
JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .