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Budget includes $30,000 to help pay baseball stadium loan

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council's Finance Committee supports a $30,000 request from the Willmar Baseball Boosters to help pay off a $90,000 loan from Bremer Bank for construction of the Bill Taunton Baseball Stadium. The committee recommended the request be included in the 2009 mayor's proposed budget. The budget will be considered by the council Monday night.

City Administrator Michael Schmit said the boosters came up $90,000 short in their stadium fundraising efforts.

If the $30,000 request is renewed in 2010, the committee will ask the boosters to match the city's contribution dollar for dollar.

Other civic promotions approved by the committee earlier this week include $25,000 for Willmar Fests; $10,000 for the Kandiyohi County Humane Society; $15,000 for downtown beautification efforts; $15,000 for Christmas decorations, $150 for membership in the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council, $5,000 for the Willmar Community Foundation, and $5,000 for the Southwest Initiative Foundation.

Other non-department spending includes:

- $27,000 as the city's share of the $54,000 annual contract with congressional lobbyist David Turch. The remainder is paid by the Willmar Municipal Utilities.

- $12,000 toward a contract with a local lobbyist at the State Legislature.

- $60,000 for the Willmar Design Center.

- $20,000 for Meals on Wheels.

The committee was told it missed the deadline for acting on 2009 mayoral and council salary increases. Mayor Les Heitke had included $2,900 for salary hikes, but City Attorney Rich Ronning said an ordinance to increase salaries must have been approved before the general election.

The mayor's salary will continue at $12,000 per year and council members' salaries will continue at $7,500 per year. The mayor pro tempore receives an additional $500 per year. Salaries were last set in October 2006.

Committee members attending were Chairman Denis Anderson, Rick Fagerlie, Jim Dokken and Doug Reese (filling in for Steve Gardner). Other council members attending were Ron Christianson and Bruce DeBlieck. Cindy Swenson was absent.

Also attending were council members-elect Steve Ahmann and Tim Johnson.

The 2009 budget of $20,842,162 is down $1,776,000 from the 2008 budget of $22.6 million because spending on capital improvements will be reduced in 2009. In 2008, the city spent money on road and other improvements in the old airport where the industrial park is expanding.

For 2009, no new projects have been identified in the industrial park.

The levy will increase 4.1 percent from $3,383,646 in 2008 to $3,525,325 in 2009. The 2009 levy includes a proposed levy of $189,908 for the Willmar Housing and Redevelopment Authority, up 33 percent from $141,796 in 2008.

The levy will account for 16.9 percent of all revenue is the third-largest of the city's 14 revenue sources. Local Government Aid from the state is the leading source at 22.1 percent, followed by service charges at 21.6 percent.

The city spends 22.8 percent -- the largest of eight expenditure areas -- on public safety (police and fire protection), followed by waste treatment at 18.81 percent and public works at 15 percent.