Willmar City Council to set preliminary levy
WILLMAR -- In his 2015 budget address to the Willmar City Council last month, Mayor Frank Yanish said that while the city has stable operations, the city is falling behind in maintenance of roads, parks, buildings and other facilities.
WILLMAR - In his 2015 budget address to the Willmar City Council last month, Mayor Frank Yanish said that while the city has stable operations, the city is falling behind in maintenance of roads, parks, buildings and other facilities.
Since 2012, he said, city staff has been trying to plan over a five-year period for capital expenditures. Yanish said the city has a backlog of deferred maintenance and the council must balance the funds available with the needs.
In his budget address, Yanish said city department directors have identified needs in excess of
$2 million for infrastructure beyond street pavement management. But due to available funds, the level of “cash-funded’’ projects proposed in 2015 has been scaled back to only $945,000, he said.
Council members saw evidence of deferred maintenance at city buildings, parks and streets during a two-hour tour earlier this week. Observations made during the tour will provide context to consideration of the 2015 preliminary levy by the Finance Committee and City Council as a whole when they meet again Monday.
The committee will discuss the levy and make a recommendation to the council, and the council will act on the recommendation. The 4:45 p.m. special meeting will be in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building.
The council must certify the preliminary levy to the Kandiyohi County Auditor by Tuesday, which is the next day, said City Administrator Charlene Stevens. After Tuesday, the council can reduce the levy but cannot increase it, Stevens said.
The proposed 2015 levy of $4,201,028 is up $61,294 from the 2014 levy. The increase comes about as a result of increased valuation from new construction.
Councilman Denis Anderson, Finance Committee chairman, has suggested the possibility of increasing that levy amount to catch up on deferred maintenance and purchases after local government aid from the state was cut in 2008-2010.
Nearly all of the 2015 levy - $4,054,028 - will go to general operating and $147,000 will go to the street program.
Yanish proposes the general fund at $15,530,066, which includes a transfer of $1,632,598 for capital expenditures, $945,000 for cash-funded projects, and the remainder for equipment purchases.
Willmar’s 2015 allotment of $4.5 million in local government aid will increase approximately $30,000 from 2014.
Transfers from Rice Memorial Hospital and Willmar Municipal Utilities are not expected to increase, said Yanish.
During October and November, the council will hold workshops on capital improvement projects, hear funding requests from community groups, and consider street and road paving.
Also, the council will review the Willmar Municipal Utilities 2015 budget and Rice Hospital 2015 budget.
The council has also typically reviewed the city Housing and Redevelopment Authority budget and levy. However, due to the merger of the city HRA with the Kandiyohi County HRA, this may be the last year for the council to review the HRA budget, Stevens said.
She also said there will be no city HRA levy, which will become part of the county-wide HRA levy in 2015.
The council’s target date to certify the final levy to the county auditor and adopt the budget is Dec. 2. However, the council could wait until Dec. 31 to certify the levy and adopt the budget.
The Finance Committee has received information from staff and discussed additional revenue sources. But Stevens says there are not that many unique revenue tools available to Minnesota cities.
“It really comes down to the level of service that the citizens want to have and that the council finds to be an acceptable level of service because we can deliver any level of service if we have the resources to do so,’’ she said.