Preliminary Cologne levy up 3 percent

Local governments have been busy compiling budgets for 2013 in recent weeks, and the Cologne City Council approved its preliminary tax levy and budget on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
The preliminary numbers, which can be lowered but not raised before final budgets are approved in December, show a 3 percent increase in the tax levy, which in actual dollars is rising by $23,085 over the 2012 levy to a total amount of $773,702 after fiscal disparities are factored in.
City administrator John Douville said the increase is needed to continue covering the cost of city services due to a variety of factors such as the increased price of fuel, adding that the 3 percent increase was “pretty reasonable.”
Douville added that continued construction at Cologne Academy, which built a 13,000 square foot addition this summer, helped keep taxes lower by generating additional revenue for the city in fees. Further construction at the school could take place next year as well.
As for the overall preliminary budget, the proposed amount is $1,084,455, an increase of $116,202 over the 2012 budget of $968,253.
A public hearing prior to approval of the final 2013 budget will be held at city hall at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 3.

In other business, council members:
• Discussed and tabled a hazard mitigation plan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding a flood insurance rate map, which is in the process of being updated.
If the council approves a resolution to be included in the plan it could allow city residents to be eligible to receive benefits such as low-interest loans for repairs in the event of a flood, but council members and city staff noted that there is little flood risk in Cologne and a long history of no significant flood damage.
Cologne does not currently have a similar flood mitigation agreement and never has had such a plan because, as city officials noted, there has never been much need for one.
• Discussed the status of the Benton Lake fishing pier project. Volunteers are anxious to put sections of the pier already constructed in the water and finish construction this fall, but those involved with the project are currently waiting to hear back from church officials who are reviewing an easement and liability waiver.
• Approved the annexation of 1.65 acres of land owned by Alan Boehning.
• Approved the hiring of Daniel Fritz for a part-time seasonal position from Aug. 27 through October of 2012. Fritz will be working approximately 20-30 hours a week at $10 per hour.
• Approved a two-year joint assessment agreement with the Carver County Assessor’s Office for 2013 and 2014. The cost per parcel for assessment services is $11.50 per residential valuation, $12 per agricultural valuation and $13 per commercial/industrial valuation.