Second Street North

Road work in Blooming Prairie continues to be one of the driving factors of the City’s budget and tax levy year after year. Projects dating back to 2016, shown in the picture above, are still impacting the 2020 budget. (Press file photo)

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — During its regular meeting on Monday night, the Blooming Prairie City Council unanimously approved the preliminary 2020 budget, as well as the preliminary 2020 tax levy.

The property tax levy reflects a $44,041 net increase, a 6% increase. While the operation levy is decreasing $7,491, the debt service levy is increasing $51,542.

City Administrator Andrew Langholz presented that the proposed budget does reflect a much-needed increase in Local Government Aid in the amount of $20,876, which helped offset the majority of the expenditure increases. Langholz stated that he also used $5,000 of the excess debt service funds to lower the debt service levy. The capital fund was also increased by $11,500.

Some of the highlighted expenditures that will be coming the city’s way include a change in the employee health benefits HRA plan, which Blooming Prairie has held for nearly two decades. The city will be switching to an HSA plan, which will essentially help cover expenses that fall under the deductible of a health insurance plan. Langholz explained that though this will be a big change for the city and its employees, it will have a relatively small impact on the budget if they change the plan yet this year.

One of the most noticeable changes to the expenditures in the city’s 2020 budget can be seen in wages, which has been increased to reflect the 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that the council had approved earlier this year. The police wages all increased to reflect the COLA increases and Langholz noted that there was a step increase of one officer who moved from part-time to full-time hours.

“I’ve also adjusted the amount for worker’s compensation,” Langholz said. “This numbers seems to be volatile each year.”

The operational budget again this year reflects a balanced budget with no surplus or deficit. The debt service budget does, however, reflect a deficit of $3,536 with the surplus coming from the EDA Fund and Capital Outlay Funds.

Langholz also noted that the 2016A Main Street Bond, the 2017A Street Reconstruction Bond, and the 2019A Street Reconstruction Bond issues reflect more almost a quarter of the levy increase need. He stated in the tax levy memo that “hopefully the community understands that the street reconstruction they ask for costs tax dollars to pay for.”

The Truth in Taxation meeting for the final levy, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Blooming Prairie City Council Chambers.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie.

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