WINSTED, MN – When Winsted’s 2015 budget is finalized in December, it’s likely the council will approve a levy that’s 1.7 percent higher than last year.
When adjusted for inflation, the levy increase amounts to zero, according to City Administrator Clay Wilfahrt.
The council discussed lowering the budget at the Nov. 18 work session, but was hesitant to make any cuts. Mayor Steve Stotko said he wants to do what’s best for the city long-term, and he’d rather see small regular increases instead of risking a sudden jump.
With a 1.7 percent increase, a home valued at $150,000 will pay $1,121 in city tax, which is $39 higher than in 2014. Commercial properties are calculated differently; and a business property value of $1 million would pay $17,090 in city tax, which is $601 higher than last year.
Employee health insurance costs came in $9,834 less than the city originally planned, which allows for some flexibility in the budget. One option the council discussed was to keep the budget at its preliminary amount (the 1.7 percent increase) and put the $9,834 into the capital improvement fund.
Another option would be to reduce the total levy by that amount, which would result in a 0.8 percent levy increase, instead of 1.7 percent.
Wilfahrt recommended leaving the budget at a 1.7 percent increase. He noted that JOBZ is sunsetting in 2015 and will add about 5 percent to the city’s 2016 net tax capacity, and that the construction of Dollar General and the addition to Drill Pipe Manufacturing will significantly add to the tax base.
Separate from the regular levy, the council plans to approve an 8 percent increase in sewer rates and a 2 percent increase in water rates.
The purpose of the increase is to build reserves for water future water projects and help fund wastewater treatment facility improvements.
With the increase, the minimum for sewer would be $7.20 instead of $6.67; and sales per 1,000 gallons would increase from $8.43 to $9.10.