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Roll Call: Where do Brainerd City Council members fall with 2019 tax levy increase?

As 2019 looms in the calendar, Brainerd City Council members and city staff are working to formulate a tax levy for the coming budget. Drawing from a tax base of 6,520 properties, the city of Brainerd collected $5,561,860 in taxes in 2018. The pr...

The Brainerd City Council convenes for a budget workshop Monday, Nov. 26. Members advocated for tax levy increases ranging between 2.8 to 6 percent. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch
The Brainerd City Council convenes for a budget workshop Monday, Nov. 26. Members advocated for tax levy increases ranging between 2.8 to 6 percent. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch

As 2019 looms in the calendar, Brainerd City Council members and city staff are working to formulate a tax levy for the coming budget.

Drawing from a tax base of 6,520 properties, the city of Brainerd collected $5,561,860 in taxes in 2018. The preliminary levy was set at 6 percent-which may be lowered for the 2019 budget, but not increased.

• For a 1 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $55,619 in new dollars and $5,617,479 total for 2019.

• For a 2 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $111,237 in new dollars and $5,673,097 total for 2019. (2.8 percent is regarded as conforming the tax rate to account for total estimated market increases, or, essentially, keeping the tax flat.)

• For a 3 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $166,856 in new dollars or $5,728,716 total for 2019.

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• For a 4 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $222,474 in new dollars or $5,784,334 total for 2019.

• For a 5 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $278,093 in new dollars or $5,839,953 total for 2019.

• For a 6 percent tax increase, the city would take in $333,712 in new dollars or $5,895,572 total for 2019.

A public hearing-or "Truth and Taxation" hearing, as it's been known in years past-is scheduled for 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 10, at city hall on Laurel Street.

During a budget workshop Monday, Nov. 26, members were asked, one by one, to give their preferred tax levy increase for the 2019 budget.

• Sue Hilgart, alderman-at-large: 4 percent or 6 percent, contingent on the future of city hall. Hilgart balked at the notion of spending upwards of $26 million on building a new city hall, a plan she is not in favor of. "The amount of the levy with 6 percent gives us a significant capacity to begin the repairs. If that's the direction that we're going to go, I would stay in favor of 6 percent if it's for repairs. If that's not the direction that we're going to go, we don't even have enough in the 6 percent to pay the engineer a million dollars to fund another design."

• Gabe Johnson, alderman, Ward 4: 2.8 percent. "As we've saw, even at zero percent there's about $350,000 in excess money-which is enough to take out $3.3 million in bonds and fix our buildings. If we needed to increase the bond insurance to make some upgrades to city hall and the police department, we could still do that with $400,000 or so."

• Dave Badeaux, alderman, Ward 3: 3.5 percent.

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• Jan Lambert, alderman-at-large: 3.5 percent.

• Kelly Bevans, alderman, Ward 2: 6 percent. "I think it's easier when looking at capital expenditures to budget a little bit every year. So I think that staying at zero is foolish. I think we're going to bond whichever way we go, there's not enough revenue regardless. It's easier to have a little tax increase than it is to pay for debt. Debt has to be minimized."

• Dave Pritchett, alderman, Ward 1 : 4 percent. "We need to do something, at least do the repairs. I like the idea of banking a little bit extra to keep things a little flexible."

• Kevin Stunek, alderman-at-large: 6 percent.

• Ed Menk, mayor: 6 percent. (As mayor, Menk does not cast a vote unless there's a tie vote among council members.)

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