Council gets good news about Alexandria's taxesRemember the 3 percent tax levy increase the Alexandria City Council proposed earlier this month? The fallout on taxpayers won’t be as bad. In fact, most city taxpayers should actually see a decrease.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Remember the 3 percent tax levy increase the Alexandria City Council proposed earlier this month?
The fallout on taxpayers won’t be as bad. In fact, most city taxpayers should actually see a decrease.
That’s according to new information reviewed at Monday night’s council meeting. City Assessor Reed Heidelberger prepared tax data that shows the city’s overall tax capacity is increasing 7.6 percent, from $13.7 million to $14.7 million, because more property came into the city from the orderly annexation agreement with Alexandria Township.
That extra value will result in a decrease in taxes of about 10.6 percent for the average residential and commercial property in the city.
Heidelberger’s examples: Property taxes on the average residential property valued at $134,000 will decrease from $580 this year to $519 next year. Taxes on the average commercial property valued at $200,000 will drop from $1,407 this year to $1,258 in 2013.
City Administrator Jim Taddei cautioned that the figures are based on average estimates. Not all properties will experience the same impact. Also, the estimate for the total tax capacity and tax rates for next year isn’t complete because the school district’s levy hadn’t been set when Heidelberger compiled the data.
Nevertheless, the council was pleased to hear the new numbers. “That’s wonderful news,” said Sara Carlson.
In related action, the council is going to take one more run at reducing the levy. Council member Owen Miller made a motion to hold a work session before the council’s next meeting on October 9 to reconsider the budget and levy. He said he’d like to explore more options to reduce the levy. The city is proposing a 2013 budget of $10.4 million, an increase of 1.9 percent from this year’s budget. On the revenue side, the city expects to take in $4.7 million next year, a drop of 2.4 percent. The session, which will also include considering the salary package offered for a new city engineering position, will begin at 5 p.m.
In other action, the council:
--Approved plans for the annual “Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence” walk on Tuesday, October 16. It’s sponsored by Someplace Safe, Wings Family Supportive Services and United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN). Participants will gather at the Douglas County Courthouse lawn and walk to Calvary Lutheran Church at 605 Douglas Street. About 300 people are expected to attend. The council also approved a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Susan Keehn, crime victim services advocate with Someplace Safe, noted that children from violent homes are abused or seriously neglected at rate significantly higher than those from non-abusive homes and have greater risks of alcohol/drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, developmental problems and feelings of fear, anxiety and guilt. She noted that domestic violence results in lost work time, increased health care costs, higher turnover and lower productivity. A total of 560 people in Alexandria and Douglas County received services from Someplace Safe last year. The proclamation urges residents to educate themselves about the impact of domestic violence and to work together to eliminate it.
--Accepted a bid from Josh Zeithamer to plant grass at the Alexandria Airport over a 10-year period in an effort to reduce the goose population, which can pose a safety hazard for airplanes that are landing or taking off. Studies have indicated that geese generally avoid long grass, fearing that predators will be lurking there. A total of 120 acres of the 205 acres of cropland at the airport will be transformed into grassland. Zeithamer will be responsible for planting and maintaining the grass and in turn, would be allowed to plant crops (not corn, however) on the remaining 85 acres of airport land. Zeithamer, the only person to submit a bid, agreed to pay the city a total of $51,600 over 10 years to lease the land.
--Gave final approval to increase the salaries of the mayor and council members 3 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2014. The mayor will receive $8,185 next year and $8,431 the year after that. Council salaries will bump up to $6,308 and $6,498. Council members Virgil Batesole and Owen Miller voted against the increases. Batesole said he thinks the positions are overpaid and should be reduced until the council balances its budget without increasing the levy.
--Agreed to make a conditional offer of employment to Robert Moberg of Plymouth for the new city engineer position. He has indicated he will let the city know whether he will accept the offer by Wednesday, Taddei said.
--Issued a conditional use permit to Shalom Lutheran Church along County Road 44 that will allow it to build a 280-seat sanctuary on the southeast side of the church.
--Gave final approval to rezone areas along the east side of Pioneer Road to allow for a mixed-use, non-residential planned unit development (PUD). The city gave preliminary approval for the PUD, requested by Stonemanor, back in July. The land had been zoned for medium density residential.
--Approved procedural guidelines for the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (AHRA) to proceed with administering a grant from the state’s Small Cities Development Program. The Douglas County HRA is doing the fieldwork, such as inspections. Batesole voted against it. He said the city shouldn’t be delegating its authority to the HRA. He made a motion to rewrite the document but it failed when no one seconded it. Batesole was also concerned that the document should have been approved by the county first.
--Proclaimed October 14-20 as Professional Women’s Week in Alexandria, which is sponsored by the Lakes Area Professional Women. The proclamation notes that working women represent 68 million of the nation’s workforce, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of U.S. business and generate $3.6 trillion in sales.
--Proclaimed October 7-13 as Fire Prevention Week. The Alexandria Fire Department will host an open house at the Fire Station on Monday, October 8. The council agreed to block off Fillmore Street from 3rd to 4th Avenue from 5 to 7 p.m. to accommodate a LifeLink medical helicopter that will be on display.
--Agreed to apply for membership into the Greater Lakes Area Safety and Health Council (GLASH), which helps companies and public entities increase workplace safety. Miller requested the city to join. Membership is $40 per year. Taddei noted that the expense would be covered in a “quick hurry” by making employees safer.