Hamburg levy to remain flat in 2013

For at least the third year in a row, Hamburg residents will not see an increase in their taxes.

The Hamburg City Council approved a preliminary levy and budget for 2013 during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and the levy amount of $395,210 is a zero percent increase over 2012.

In past budgets, the levy amount for Hamburg was actually lowered by two percent for 2012, and the city also had a zero percent increase in 2011. From 2009 to 2013, the tax levy has increased by just 1.5 percent.

Of course the preliminary levy approved last week is not a final document, but the amount cannot be increased before a final levy is approved in December. It can, however, be lowered for the final budget.

As for the overall budget, the preliminary numbers show general fund expenditures of $440,865 for 2013. That is a decrease of $8,110 from the 2012 budget.

City Clerk Jeremy Gruenhagen explained that the city is not factoring in Local Government Aid (LGA) payments from the state for the 2013 budget since those payment amounts have been unpredictable in recent years. Gruenhagen said he didn’t see any reason why the city would not receive LGA funds in 2013, but the long-term status of that aid is uncertain.

Any LGA funding the city does receive next year will be earmarked for street repairs and capital purchases.

In other business:
• Council members held some discussion regarding a rate study, which will determine new water, storm water and sewer rates for 2013. Though no numbers have been set at this point, Gruenhagen said it was likely residential property owners will see an increase of $6-10 per month in storm water fees. The rates will be set for 2013 in late November or early December.

• A public hearing will take place on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. regarding council wages for 2013. While no changes are proposed for the regular wages (the mayor’s salary is $1,200 per year and council salaries are $720 per year), an increase in pay from $25 to $50 for special meetings is being considered.

• The council will only meet once a month for the remainder of the year and into 2013. If more meetings are needed, a second council meeting will be added as needed. The monthly meeting will take place on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.

• Councilors discussed a tax forfeited lot on Brad Street and potential actions that could be taken to spur development there. Ideas were to waive water and sewer connection fees and/or special assessments, but no action was taken on that matter during the meeting.

• City sewer lines in the Brad Street and Robert Avenue area, as well as through the field between George Street and William Street, will be televised and cleaned this fall before freezing weather arrives.

• Councilors approved the closure of a portion of Railroad Street near Parkside Tavern to celebrate the establishment’s fifth anniversary on Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• A city cleanup day is tentatively scheduled to take place next spring in late April or early May.

• An update on the new Public Service Memorial informed the city that the project has now been entirely paid for through donations. The total cost for the memorial was around $50,000. Donations toward the memorial can still be made for future maintenance.

“That’s quite an achievement in less than a year of time, really only about 10 months,” said Gruenhagen. “Hats off to everyone involved with that.”

• The fire department will hold an open house on Oct. 13 that will allow the public to view trucks and equipment, and there will also be some small demonstrations.

The fire department has also received a training reimbursement grant of $3,150.