Blue Earth trims levy hike to 3.5%

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth City Council on Monday set the 2018 property tax levy, reaching its goal of a 3.5 percent increase.

In September, the preliminary tax levy was set at $1.64 million, a 14 percent increase from 2017, with the goal to bring the levy increase down to 3.5 percent.

At the beginning of the meeting Monday, the levy increase was set at 4.1 percent, with changes expected.

“This is, I think, the most conservative budget that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said City Administrator Tim Ibisch.

Ibisch said the goals of the budget are to help create a strong, sustainable economic base; promote a city organization that is sustainable and maintains employee morale, productivity and effectiveness; maintain the enhance the city’s cultural, historical and recreational assets; improve the partnerships between neighborhoods, schools, community organizations and the city to support and promote thriving, inclusive and diverse neighborhoods; and commit to making Blue Earth a healthy community where people feel safe to live, work and play.

One item up for debate was the budget for the Fire Relief Association. Council member Glenn Gaylord made a motion to take $12,000 out of liquor store funds to put into the Fire Relief Association. He spoke about the importance of supporting the Blue Earth Fire Department.

“It could affect their recruiting, it could affect their attitude, people could leave,” he said. “This is something we always have gave them.”

The motion passed, 4-3.

Other changes to the budget included taking $10,000 out of the Economic Development Association demolitions fund and $10,000 out of the engineering budget.

With these changes, the council met the goal of a 2018 property tax levy increase of 3.5 percent.