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Chatfield sets budget, levy for 2013

The Chatfield News of Chatfield, Minnesota

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Budget includes allotment for EDA to help retain, expand businesses

Chatfield's city council held its annual truth in taxation hearing last Monday evening, Dec. 10, certifying its 2013 final budget and tax levy. City clerk Joel Young shared a Powerpoint presentation outlining the 2012 budget and levy and the preliminary budget and levy approved in September, which forecasted a 4.8 percent increase in the levy but ended up being 1.95 percent in the final budget and levy.

The 2012 general fund levy was $981,430, with a total levy of $1,202,366. The preliminary 2013 general fund levy was $1,055,847, with a total of $1,260,664.

Young showed the council how the city tracks the same six properties each year and how property values and tax changes affect them, citing that "all in all, the property tax bill folks are getting is not going to change a lot."

He continued, "The city lost about $3 million in value in the past year at the assessor's office. That was almost entirely residential property. When any class of property sees a decrease in value, the other classes of properties see the tax pie shared more generously. We tried to maintain the levy as close to the 2012 levy as possible, but we recognize that the cost of doing business goes up."

The city is working to protect its AA credit rating while working to launch 2013 improvement project plans such as re-roofing the Thurber Building Chatfield's city hall - replace Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox's squad car, update fire department equipment, improve the streets, water and sewer lines, and consider updating the swimming pool.

"We're working to improve Mill Creek from County Road 2 train our police officers, get into the Twiford redevelopment project and work on business retention and expansion in our downtown," Young said. "A significant portion of the budget is personnel and wages, and the preliminary budget proposed 3 percent, but the increase in the final budget is 1.3 percent. The general fund impact would be $13,950, and the general fund tax levy would have to increase by 1.1 percent."

He pointed out that the library's operations have gone on as normal thanks to its endowment fund, but an additional $13,000 per year has been given to the library from the city so that the endowment fund is not depleted.

The longest topic of discussion during the meeting was whether to support giving the EDA an additional $20,000 to use for property purchases and redevelopment.

Councilor Paul Novotny expressed his opinion that the allowance should be made for one year only, as committing to such an expenditure year after year might prove difficult for the city to uphold.

Other councilors questioned the prospect as well, even though providing an increase in the EDA's budget might create opportunities for businesses to locate or remain in Chatfield.

Mayor Don Hainlen reminded the council that by including the $20,000 for the EDA, it might incubate new businesses or sustain existing ones. He added, since reductions made to the preliminary budget and levy totaled nearly $35,000, landing the levy increase at 1.95 percent, making that decision in favor could prove beneficial.

Both the 2013 adjusted budget and levy became the final figures for the coming year, and the council voted to allot the EDA its extra $20,000 for 2013.

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Original Publication Date: December 19, 2012

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