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Fairmont puts levy hike at 3%

September 11, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - City Hall will collect $3.214 million in property taxes in 2013 - an additional $94,000 from 2012 - if Fairmont City Council sticks with the 3 percent preliminary levy increase approved Monday.

The council will vote on a final budget and levy in December, at which time property taxes can be decreased, but not increased. Property taxes represent about 20 percent of the city's revenue.

Included in the 2013 budget is the $7,500 membership dues for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. The coalition is giving the city a 50 percent discount for its first year as a member. In 2014, the discount will decrease to 25 percent, with the full $15,000 due in the third year.

Fairmont has not belonged to the coalition since the 1990s, when the council at that time voted to discontinue membership in order to save money.

The coalition lobbies for legislative issues impacting Greater Minnesota at the state capital. Fairmont also belongs to the League of Minnesota Cities, which represents municipalities across the state. League dues are based on population and are comparable to the cost of Coalition membership.

Also new for 2013 is $70,000 for improvements at the Aquatic Park. Now 12 years old, the park needs to install new sand filters, replace worn out lawn chairs and paint faded equipment. City staff are examining options for the facility's roof, as well, which is already in poor condition.

Lake restoration funds are also set to increase substantially, from $9,900 in 2012 to $761,500 in 2013. The hike results from improvements planned for the channels on Woodland Avenue and Lair Road. The city has been setting money aside for these projects.

"State and federal dollars are only for [Lair Road] bridge," explained city administrator Mike Humpal.

The cost of revamping the bridge and Lair Road is $2.3 million, with federal grants covering $1.1 million.

Besides the levy increase, Fairmont residents will be pay a slight monthly increase of $1.25 in 2013. The fee will generate about $77,000, which will help pay for an annual citywide cleanup day and offset the cost of running the tree dump. In the past, the wood at the tree dump was chipped and collected from the site by a third party thanks to a grant. The grant was recently eliminated, however, which leaves the city to shoulder the cost of running the site.

The budget and levy will be finalized at a public meeting 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at City Hall.

In other business, the council:

o Approved a one-day temporary on-sale liquor license to Martin County Humane Society to allow wine to be served at a fund-raising event set for Oct. 11 at Red Rock Center for the Arts.

o Set a public hearing to consider a request from Kahler Automation to amend a development agreement and establish a tax-increment finance district. The tax break would allow the company to expand its facility by 15,000 square feet. The public hearing will be 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at City Hall.

o Authorized the mayor and city clerk to execute a grant agreement for 2012 improvements at Fairmont Municipal Airport.



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