Council approves a tax increase

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Albert Lea City Council approved a preliminary 2014 tax increase Monday that will be used to cover bond payments for about a half dozen city infrastructure projects being completed this year.

Under the preliminary overall tax levy, the city’s portion of taxes on a $100,000 home would increase by $37, while a commercial business valued at $200,000 would see a city tax increase of $159, said City Manager Chad Adams. These estimations assume there are no changes in market values or tax capacity.

The council will vote on the final levy and budget in December. They may lower the levy but cannot raise it.

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The council approved the overall levy at $5.83 million. Under that, the general fund levy was approved at $4.56 million and the debt service levy at $1.07 million. The increase in the debt service levy equals a 6.7 increase in the overall levy.

The council approved the preliminary tax increase on a 5-2 vote, with councilors George Marin and Al “Minnow” Brooks voting against.

“I think at some point government has to operate like the local family has to,” Marin said. “When times are tough you tighten your belt.”

He said he has heard from some of his constituents who are concerned with an increase in taxes.

Brooks said he did not feel comfortable approving the preliminary levy and budget and asked whether the city sometimes bonds for things that aren’t needed.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen asked that residents contact him or the other city councilors to let them know their opinions. He said city officials have made efforts to address some of the infrastructure needs of the city, and people need to ask themselves whether they want to see roads in good condition or whether they want to let them go a couple more years.

He noted that the city has many roads in need of repair because infrastructure needs were not dealt with properly 20 to 30 years ago.

The preliminary debt service levy approved Monday is up about $368,000 from the previous year. The increase covers the Broadway reconstruction, the Shoreland Avenue and Fourth Avenue overlay projects, the City Hall HVAC project and the West Ninth Street reconstruction.

The council approved the preliminary budget at $14.43 million.

A public meeting about the final levy and budget is slated for Dec. 9.

Look to the Tribune this week for more information about the Monday meeting.