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New London votes to keep 2011 levy flat

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

NEW LONDON -- The New London City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday to keep the 2011 tax rate the same as this year.

The general fund levy of $198,000 for next year is a couple hundred dollars less than the 2010 levy. The zero percent levy increase will mean a tax cut for many New London residents.

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"If people saw a reduction in their market value for 2011, they will see a reduction in their city taxes," said City Administrator Trudie Guptill. She said most residents in New London saw their property values drop.

Guptill had presented five scenarios for the council to consider, including everything from zero to a $25,000 levy increase for 2011.

Councilman John Bergman advocated for a $10,000 levy increase to help brace the city for future cuts in state aid.

The city currently has a $39,000 surplus in case the state cuts Local Government Aid again, said Guptill.

"It'll eat up our fund balance, but we have it designated for that purpose."

She said Bergman was concerned that it wasn't a large enough surplus to make up for lost aid.

The city is supposed to get $315,869 from the state this year. Based on past cuts and the state's current budget deficit, Guptill said it's "highly unlikely we'll end up at that level."

She anticipates the Legislature will reduce Local Government Aid again. "But until they start butting heads, it doesn't do me any good to start guessing."

A majority of the council members said it is not a good time to raise city taxes when many residents will be paying assessments on a proposed $3.4 million water and sewer project slated for 2011.

The project includes replacing much of the city's old clay sewer and water tiles.

This year the city spent $100,000 to treat groundwater that had seeped into the sewer lines. That money was "flushed down the toilet," said Guptill.

It's hoped the new infrastructure will cut the infiltration by at least a third and eventually save the city money.

Councilmen John Mack, Laurence Beck and Kevin Dittbenner voted for a zero percent increase in the levy.

Bergmann and Mayor Bill Gossman voted against it.

The council also approved the 2011 budget of $590,082.

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West Central Tribune (320) 235-6769 customer support
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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