The Medford City Council has approved a 2.4% property tax levy increase for 2021.
The council on Monday approved a total tax levy of $673,978 for 2021. Of that, $603,100 is for the general fund and the remaining amount is for items such as fire relief and the Economic Development Authority, according to the city. No one from the public spoke during the Truth and Taxation hearing prior to the council’s approval.
“The overall levy increase will fund inflation in the cost of supplies and services, provide additional funding for Fire Department repairs and capital expenses, increase reserves, fund increases in health insurance, continue the maintenance of streets and wastewater infrastructure, park improvements and putting funds into the capital project fund,” City Administrator Andy Welti said.
The council also approved a $2.28 million budget for 2021. Slightly more than $1 million is slated for general fund expenditures. Other expenditures include $369,700 from the water fund, $340,000 from the sewer fund, $441,000 from the liquor fund and $21,500 in capital projects, according to the city.
Welti cautioned that the state of Minnesota could cut local government aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the budget accounts for that reduction with little or no impact on city services.
In other news, the council declined to renew a contract with the Minnesota nonprofit Community and Economic Development Associates. The motion to renew the contract failed 3-2 with Mayor Lois Nelson and Councilor Grace Bartlett were the two supporting the motion.
CEDA provides economic development services to the city and the proposed contract would increase its work for the city to two days per month.
Councilor Matt Dempsey said he hasn’t seen enough results from CEDA to warrant the city continuing with the services.
“We haven’t had new businesses come to town. We have a dying mall,” he said.
Welti, who interned with the organization before taking the Medford administrator's job, said it’s beneficial to have a CEDA representative for Medford and the city can reevaluate the contract throughout the year. Nelson also touted CEDA’s services, although the city is still “waiting for an ‘Aha!’ blast.”
The council also accepted Welti’s resignation. His last day is Monday. Nelson noted there was “an opportunity that has come up for Andy that cannot be refused” and doesn’t have to do with his recent job evaluation, in which he met and exceeded expectations for the job.