Council will also revisit funding OK’ed in 2016 for DCDP facilitator

    With a goal of approving a final 2018 budget and property tax levy on Dec. 11 – but not officially required to until Dec. 31 – members of the Crookston City Council, Finance Director Angel Weasner and City Administrator Shannon Stassen are set to sit down once again in the hopes of hammering out a budget and levy everyone can agree on, or at least a majority of the council.

    The council’s Ways & Means Committee will meet at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

    For months, Weasner and Stassen have suggested an 8 percent levy increase in 2018. If local home market values in 2018 would have remain unchanged compared to 2017, Weasner had previously noted that the City share of property taxes paid in 2018, even with an 8 percent levy increase, would have actually gone down. But, since then, the Polk County Assessor’s Office has calculated and disseminated its 2018 property tax estimations, and most local home values are set to go up, which means the City share of property taxes paid next year will as well.

    Despite all that, several council members throughout the discussions on the 2018 budget and levy have expressed strong reservations about an 8 percent levy increase. While they approved a preliminary budget and levy in September, as required by the state, with an 8 percent levy increase, their goal all along has been to approve a final budget and levy with an increase in the 3 to 5 percent range. Last week, several council members suggested they’d be comfortable with a 5 percent levy increase. When Weasner said that would mean approximately $60,000 in reductions would have to be found in the 2018 budget, it was suggested that $60,000 not be reduced, but taken from City reserves.

DCDP funding resolution.

    The committee will also revisit the resolution the council passed in 2016 that approved three years of City funding totaling $120,000 that was to pay for a part-time paid facilitator to lead the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership. With a lot of turnover in DCDP leadership since then, the current DCDP Board of Directors earlier this year terminated the contract of its facilitator, and has indicated it does not want to hire another one. DCDP leaders have said they’d rather spend the money on various projects that improve downtown.

    While council members have recently expressed a degree of openness to considering spending City money on various downtown projects the DCDP brings forth, the resolution approved in 2016 specifically earmarks the $120,000 to be spent in the form of a stipend for the DCDP facilitator, and if that money is not going to be spent in that fashion, Weasner previously explained, the resolution must be changed.

    The 2016 allocation was previously spent on part of the facilitator’s salary, and DCDP leaders a few weeks ago indicated they had around $20,000 left from the first installment. Council members said the DCDP could hold onto that money for now. But the committee Tuesday evening will be asked by Stassen and Weasner to amend the original resolution by removing the requirement that $40,000 be put toward the facilitator stipend in 2017, and $35,000 be put toward it in 2018.