Citizens face 34 percent tax increase in Spicer
SPICER -- Spicer residents filled the City Council chambers for the city's truth in taxation hearing Wednesday. Based on the preliminary tax levy set in September, Spicer's taxpayers were facing up to a 34 percent increase in city taxes for 2007,...
SPICER -- Spicer residents filled the City Council chambers for the city's truth in taxation hearing Wednesday.
Based on the preliminary tax levy set in September, Spicer's taxpayers were facing up to a 34 percent increase in city taxes for 2007, paying for increases in the city's budget and for street and utility construction projects. The city's bond payments in 2007 for the city hall and library and for the 2003 and 2006 street projects total $202,850, or 28.5 percent of the total levy.
The preliminary levy set in September was $713,084, a 31.6 percent increase over 2006. The 2007 prelimilary budget is approximately $1.7 million. The city council will certify the final levy and budget at its Dec. 27 meeting.
Before the council meeting ended after midnight, the council had trimmed approximately $93,500 from the levy total, dropping it to $619,584, which is virtually the same as the 2006 tax rate, according to Kimberly Wothe, city administrator.
Citizens questioned the city's commitment to spend $150,000 on the town's ballpark. The council agreed in October to pledge $15,000 per year for 10 years. The New London-Spicer School District pledged $50,000 for the estimated $450,000 project. A group of citizens is rasing money and in-kind donations for the remaining portion of the costs.
The businesses who benefit from baseball tournaments at the park should pay for the improvements, city resident Wynn Elliot suggested to the council.
"Let them spend the money, and see if they benefit," he said.
Council member Marlys Larsen noted she was unhappy that the council was pressed into a quick decision on the matter, because the organizers wanted start the project to leverage donated equipment time for dirtwork.
The greatest portion of the tax bill is to pay for city street and utility improvements, including this year's $1.7 million of projects. A portion of the cost was assessed to abutting property owners, so some some city taxpayers are footing both sides of the bill.
The city had to improve the aging infrastructure with no funds reserved for the work, according to Terry Holmquist, council member.
"We went decades with no money put away for the infrastructure," he said. "The entire city had an ancient infrastructure."
Taxes will drop when those projects are paid for, he added, noting that future city leaders need to reserve funds so that citizens aren't assessed for street projects.
Mayor-elect Perry Wohnoutka urged the council to step back from plans for street and utility construction on Lake Avenue South, which is planned for next summer. The estimated cost is $1.7 million. The road is also County Road 10.
"Let the county take the lead," he said. "We don't need to take the lead, we don't have the budget."
Later in the meeting, the council approved a feasibility study for the project.
In other action, the council:
- Approved, on a 4-1 vote, the bond purchase agreement to issue up to $14 million for Living Services LLC, which plans to refinance and renovate the GlenOaks senior care facility in New London. Larsen voted against the measure.
- Passed a resolution entering a joint powers agreement with the city of Rogers for the purchase of lighting for the baseball field project. Rogers has completed the state bidding process and the agreement allows Spicer to use Rogers' bid to purchase the lights, which may cost up to $100,000. The city has up to three years to use the bid to buy the lights.