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Lanesboro City Council Report: Council discusses capital improvement plans

Fri, Aug 24th, 2007
Posted in Government

Members of the Lanesboro City Council met in a joint meeting with the Public Utilities committee last week, Aug. 23, to discuss budget issues and capital improvement plans for the near future. Gerry Evenson and Dennis Schuck from Public Utilities were present.

The city recently tried to get an increase in the sales tax to help fund these projects, but was unable to do so.

City Administrator Bobbie Torgerson made a list of projects and purchases needed by the city along with rough cost estimates. The projects are divided into the categories of Electric, Water, Sewer, City Facilities, Equipment and Street Reconstruction. It will be the job of the city council to decide which jobs in these categories are the most urgent and which ones the city can afford to do.

Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates presented the council with graphs and a Projects, Debt and Revenue Allocation Worksheet showing how the money spent on the projects would affect things like the tax rates and utility bills for the next fifteen years. One graph showed projected tax rates, and Bubany stressed that the city should keep the tax rates at 73 percent or under. The rates are currently at 68 percent.

The city generally has $10,000 budgeted in the sewer fund each year, as well as $10,000 in the water fund. The electric fund has $50,000 and the General Fund carries around $90,000. Bubany explained that they could decrease the budget amount and redirect some of the funds to be used for capital projects.

Using the worksheet to predict inflation and tax rates, it was determined that in 2008, $700,000 could be used for needed street improvements; $60,000 for water meters and pump house upgrades; $170,000 for lining sewer mains and rebuilding manholes; and $270,000 for work on city facilities. In 2013 they will be able to use another $525,000 for street repairs and will have $130,000 for purchasing needed equipment. Street improvements will be assessed at 35 percent to residents living on both sides of the street. The tax rate will stay under the 73 percent mark. All of the projects add up to $2.5 million. Funding for some of these projects will come from bonds, and other items will be paid with money from the general fund or the electric fund.

According to Bubany, the water bills in Lanesboro, which are around $25 a month, are a little higher than the regional average of $19 a month, and will continue to rise. The electricity bills, which average around $50 a month, will raise within the projected three percent increase. Sewer bills are expected to rise above the current level of $30 a month. All of these increases will help to fund the needed city improvements. No final decisions have been made on the capital improvements budget.

Bubany added that the sales tax increase of a half percent the city requested could have produced between $40-50,000 a year for 15 years. The city will continue to try to get the increase. He also mentioned that the council is not binding future councils to these plans, and unforeseen events could happen, in which case they can make necessary changes.

Other business

Torgerson presented the council with the proposed budget for 2008, leaving out capital outlays until they decide which projects will be done. She stated that police services had increased $3,000. The fire and ambulance budget remained the same.

The council approved the payment of a park bill for a recent water problem in the park. Torgerson explained that, out of the $3,900 bill, the school would be paying $1,500.

The council also approved providing Rushford with flood assistance, which includes lending equipment and men to operate the equipment. Lanesboro's insurance will cover the expenses. Torgerson commented that it's great to see all the towns come together to help each other out.

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