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Rushford looking at no levy increase

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Dec 14th, 2012
Posted in Rushford Government

Municipalities within the state must certify the levy to the county auditor on or before five working days after December 20 each year. With that date rapidly approaching, a Rushford budget subcommittee of city staff, Mayor Chris Hallum, and councilor Robert Dahl, has spent a significant amount of time pouring over the proposed 2013 budget looking for potential savings. Following a three-hour final meeting, the subcommittee put forth a budget recommendation that meets the goal of a zero percent increase in the levy for 2013. Until the date of certification, the council may adopt or lower the proposed amount, but they may not raise it past 2.9 percent, or $762,000, preliminarily certified to the county auditor this past September.

“This is pretty lean. The council wants a zero percent increase? Mission accomplished,” noted Hallum. “We looked at the budget line by line.”

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable offering a budget lower than that,” added City Administrator Steve Sarvi, who also noted that the subcommittee spent a great deal of time discussing Public Works Capital Projects fund, as well as how to drive down debt service aggressively through every opportunity.

“This is difficult to do on the fly,” cautioned councilor Vern Bunke, looking at the subcommittee’s plan. “It’s my first time seeing this.”

City Clerk Kathy Zacher maintains what the city will have to spend hasn’t changed, rather where revenue will be spent has shifted. “What’s going to change between now and then? $740,000 three years in a row,” said Hallum, noting the last levy increase being for 2011. “How long can you stay flat like this?”

“That depends on how much you can keep saving,” stressed Bunke.

If the city does certify the levy at zero percent and find further savings throughout the year, any excess funds will go into building the city’s general fund back up, which was suggested by last year’s audit. “I’m comfortable with this. There’s no fat in the day to day operations,” responded Hallum.

“You’re entitled to your opinion,” said Bunke. “I’m just asking for time, so I really know what I’m voting for.”

The council will certify the levy at the next council meeting, scheduled for December 17, at 6:30pm, at city hall. Please note the change in date, due to the Christmas holiday.

In other news, the city has acknowledged a generous donation of $10,000 from the Rushford Community Foundation and $5,000 from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Matching Grant Funds towards the Brooklyn Park playground project.

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