NL tax rate to drop by 5 percent in '06
NEW LONDON -- New London's tax rate will decrease by 5.1 percent next year after the City Council approved the 2006 levy and budget Wednesday. The levy will be $112,000, which is $21,350 less than the city had proposed in September. The levy is s...
NEW LONDON -- New London's tax rate will decrease by 5.1 percent next year after the City Council approved the 2006 levy and budget Wednesday.
The levy will be $112,000, which is $21,350 less than the city had proposed in September. The levy is still going up by 21.7 percent from this year.
But the city portion of property owners' taxes should decrease as long as their property values stayed about the same. The lower tax rate is mostly attributed to the city's growth in 2005, city administrator Trudie Guptill said.
The council also approved the 2006 general fund budget at $518,099, which is a 25.8 percent increase from this year.
The budget includes adjustments to personnel wages. The personnel committee, which is Mayor John Mack and councilman Eric Orson, looked at staff wages in surrounding cities, particularly Spicer, and found that New London wages are below other cities of its size.
With council's approval Wednesday, city staff wages will increase between 12.5 percent and 18.2 percent next year. Despite the increase, the wages are still below the state average for cities with populations between 1,000 and 2,000.
When compared with Spicer, the public works and administrator salaries are now higher, but the utility clerk salary is slightly lower.
The city clerk/administrator will receive a 17.7 percent increase to be at $46,500. The utility clerk will receive a 14.18 percent increase to make $12 an hour.
The public works supervisor will receive a 12.5 percent increase to be at $37,000 and the public works worker will receive an 18.2 percent increase to be at $28,500.
"The percentage increases are high, but I can see the justification," councilman Kevin Dittbenner said.
Mayor John Mack acknowledged that the wages are still below other cities, but thought the council could raise their wages in stages rather than at one time. In the past, the staff's raises have been between 1 percent and 2 percent.
Guptill said some of the staff didn't like the proposal. In the budget, she had proposed higher salaries for the administrator and the public works worker that were still below the state average for cities New London's size.
"It's sure better than what we offered three months ago," Mack said. The committee's had first offered raises between 2 percent and 5 percent.
Mack also said the employees are doing a good job for the city and thanked them for the "good year."
Also Wednesday, the council approved hiring a building inspector/zoning administrator who will be shared with Spicer.
The cities hired James Solheid of rural Spicer at a $45,000 salary that will be split between the cities depending on the hours he works in each.
New London currently contracts with Mid-Minnesota Development Commission for building inspection. Solheid works for the Commission now and has done New London's building inspections, Guptill said.
Solheid will begin his job with the cities Feb. 1. Guptill said she expects the new arrangement will save the city $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
The council also learned it will receive grants for shoreland restoration from the state Department of Natural Resources. The city is planning to do restoration in Holm Park and at the beach. The grants will require a $1,000 match from the city, which had been budgeted.
Also Wednesday, the council approved its contract with Kandiyohi County Attorney Boyd Beccue for prosecutorial services. The hourly wage increased from $95 an hour to $102.50 an hour.