WASECA — Waseca City officials prepared the preliminary 2020 budget with a little over 4 percent increase from the 2019 budget.

The city council approved a 9.5% preliminary tax levy increase with councilors Jeremy Conrath and Allan Rose as nays.

“I am going to be voting against this levy tonight,” Conrath said. “They came to us with a 7.55% increase...I don’t see why we need to raise it another 2%.”

“Because of family things I had to miss most of the budget sessions,” Rose said. “However this process is always great to go through and I believe that what you (Mayor Roy Srp) said is so true that the staff and the information that we receive is great and crystal clear and easy for the public to understand. I also am not going to support the 9.5. I believe the 7.55 is adequate for what we need to do in the next year.”

That preliminary general fund levy of just over $4.9 million is the increase for the 2020 budget.

City Manager Lee Mattson spoke of a “curve ball” the city staff encountered in the budgeting process, which is a potential Highway 13 Minnesota Department of Transportation project.

This one-time, unplanned project would be a study of the safety of pedestrians in the area on Highway 13 and 15th Avenue Northeast by McDonald’s and the new Kwik Trip. The project is still in the works under study to determine scope and budget.

Other budget impacts listed were funding for capital improvement for street, storm water and city facilities improvements, funding for salary adjustments from the Classification and Compensation Study findings, cost of living adjustment for employees effective Jan. 1, 2020. Another impact is funding for projected workers compensation and liability insurance, capital equipment needs, Vision 2030 project allowance, minor adjustments for department needs and miscellaneous items.

Council members unanimously approved the maximum levy for the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), in the amount of $88,471.

According to the city council packet under state statute the EDA’s maximum allowable levy is .1813 percent of the city’s total taxable market value. Since there was a slight increase in the taxable market value for the city in 2019 and the EDA levy calculation is based on the previous year’s taxable market value, the maximum tax levy increase for the EDA is $6,019 based on the adopted 2019 levy.

“I’d like to take a moment to thank city staff lead by the city manager and with the people you have to lead I can imagine that it makes your life easier, thank you,” Srp said. “I’d also like to say that my feelings are that this is the most input the council has been allowed to have in some time, these meetings have been smoothly ran and seamless and we have all felt that our input has been necessary and heard…great finance director, thank you for heading this… you couldn’t find a greater group of people in the State or the Country…thank you to everyone for all that you have done for this.”

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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