If there was a consensus at the end of the City of Crookston's annual public hearing to establish the 2013 budget and levy, it's that the city's books are in pretty decent shape.
After the hearing, the City Council approved the upcoming year's budget and levy.
The levy is going up 3 percent from 2012, totaling $1,714,714. It's the third consecutive year with a 3 percent hike, after several years with no levy increase and even one year with a levy decrease. As aid cuts to the city have continued, officials decided a couple years ago that the best approach might be modest tax levy increases when necessary instead of trying to hold the line on the levy for too long, and then having to bump it significantly higher in a single year.
The 3 percent levy increase for 2013 will bring in $49,943 in additional property tax revenue, said Finance Director Angel Hoeffner, conducting her first budget hearing since being hired earlier this year.
Here are some facts and figures to chew on:
• The city in 2013 will have 60 full-time employees, the same as 2012. It's part of a very slow downward trend dating back to 2003, when the city had 63 full-time employees.
• 30 percent of city revenue comes from Local Government Aid, 52 percent comes from receipts and 18 percent comes from the local property tax levy.
• The Crookston Police Department, at 34 percent, accounts for the biggest general fund expense.
• The 2010 Census estimated that there were 3,029 households in Crookston. Using that number, the annual tax levy bill per household is $566.10, or $47.18 per household per month. In return for that cost, Hoeffner said, Crookston residents get constant police and fire protection, snow removal from public streets, street cleaning and maintenance, building official and zoning services, parks and recreation, a public library and airport.
• The city has lost more than $1.5 million in LGA since 2003.
• The general fund budget is up 7.42 percent in 2013, but the total budget is up 2.64 percent. Hoeffner said the difference is attributable to expenses and balances in other budgets being reduced.
As for the final days of the 2012 budget, Hoeffner said things are "on track" and that the city might actually come out slightly better than projected. If there are funds left over that weren't previously reserved or accounted for, as per council policy, they automatically are placed into the Municipal Land and Building Fund.
Mayor Dave Genereux complimented the city department heads and staff for being pragmatic and, whenever possible, frugal in their approach to their budgets.
"I'd like to thank them for being fiscally responsible in everything they've done over the years," he said. "Watching their P's and Q's makes it a lot easier for the council to do its job."
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