City proposes 4.5 percent tax hike

Published 10:09 am Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved a preliminary city levy increase to support a full-time Fire Department and road infrastructure improvements.

Chad Adams

City Manager Chad Adams estimated the 4.5 percent preliminary levy increase approved Monday will equal out to an $18 property tax increase for a $100,000 homeowner.

The council will vote on the final budget and levy in December. The levy can be lowered between now and then, but it cannot be raised.

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Adams said 3 percent of the overall preliminary levy increase comes from the general fund levy, which will restore the Fire Department to five-firefighter crews, and 1.5 percent comes from the debt service levy, which covers road improvements.

Choosing to restore the full-time staffing for the Fire Department is estimated itself to cost $12 out of the total estimated $18 increase for a $100,000 homeowner.

The council approved the preliminary general fund levy at $4.76 million plus the preliminary debt service levy at about $700,000. Combined the overall preliminary levy totals about $5.46 million.

The overall preliminary general fund budget approved was $14.28 million, which reflects an about $520,000 increase from 2012.

HRA levy

The council also approved a preliminary $50,000 special levy for the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

This was about 36 percent of the maximum $140,000 levy that was initially proposed.

If approved in December, it will equate to around a $4 annual property tax increase for a $100,000 home. HRA Executive Director Jon Ford said the money will be used toward community-oriented housing programs and will help leverage for other funding.

The money from the levy will also go toward updating the housing study, demolishing city-acquired substandard property and administration costs for some of the programs.

He estimated that during the last three to four years, the HRA has helped renovate 70 to 80 homes.