City council approves preliminary tax levy increase

Published 11:19 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Tax levy could decrease by December deadline

 

The Albert Lea City Council unanimously approved a 2 percent preliminary tax levy increase Monday night.

Councilors approved setting the preliminary tax levy at $6.44 million, a slight increase from $6.31 million this year.

The levy can only decrease before it is set Dec. 11.

Taxes on a home valued at $100,000 would increase by $5.12 under the proposed levy.

The operating levy is projected to increase by slightly more than 2 percent — the first time in six years — while the debt service levy is expected to decrease.

The increase is expected to cover compensation costs, cost of living and insurance increases and utilities costs.

Prior to the vote, 2nd Ward Councilor Larry Baker, 6th Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks and 3rd Ward Councilor Jason Howland said the city has successfully kept tax increases low in the past and requested city staff work to reduce the levy before December.

Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. challenged city staff and the council to implement a minimal tax increase while keeping services.

Councilors approved keeping the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority Levy at $109,000.

The city’s tax base has grown 4 percent since last year, which Adams said could result in most Albert Leans not seeing a tax increase.

The city has seen an increase in total revenue of about 3.4 percent, including $7,750 in LGA funding, $20,000 in state police aid and $75,000 in franchise fees.

A public hearing on the levy is scheduled for Dec. 10.

In other action, the council:

• Ordered the improvement and preparation of plans to provide sanitary sewer and water to the Stables area, properties along Country Club Road and accommodating a future extension of the sanitary sewer and water main north along Freeborn County Highway 20 to the West Plaza Street area. Roads being reconstructed as part of the project are Belgrade Drive, North Trail, East Trail, West Trail, Elm Street and Country Club Road.

“This is an area where, due to the small lot sizes, many of the properties have non-compliant septic systems and no way to construct a system that would meet the requirements,” Adams said.

The city has applied for Public Facilities Authority funding for the project and has submitted a  preliminary engineering report and facilities plan for servicing the Stables area.

There are 52 lots in the Stables area and 10 in the Country Club Road area.

The project is expected to cost $2.96 million, with an estimated $343,548 price tag to remove existing ditches and provide residents of the Stables area with curb and gutter and storm sewer system.

The city of Albert Lea estimates Public Facilities Authority low-interest loans and grants could cover up to 50 percent of the water and sewer portions.

Estimated assessments per lot in the Stables area range from $15,000 to $54,152, and, in the Country Club Road area, $15,000 to $25,990.

• Declared Oct. 13 hometown pride fall cleanup day and authorized reduced rates at the transfer station. The event will be from 9 a.m. to noon at Albert Lea Transfer Station and Demolition Landfill. Proof of city residence will be required to participate. Brush and yard waste, household garbage and demolition debris will be free. There will be a $10 cost per appliances, sofas and mattresses, $5 for furniture pieces and $3 for passenger car tires.

• Amended the zoning map for Stables area properties being annexed from Albert Lea Township.

• Approved tax abatements at 2487 W. Ninth St. and 22374 770th Ave. as part of a program that includes tax abatement for five years on new single-family homes, duplexes or multi-family complexes built in Albert Lea between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2019.

• Accepted a $500 grant from Minnesota Energy Resources to help purchase metering equipment for natural gas and other emergencies. The Albert Lea Fire Department is expected to use the grant to offset the cost of a budgeted multi-gas monitor.

• Approved an administrative lot combination to construct a shed at 2191 Palmer Circle in Wedgewood Cove Estates.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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