Mayer City Council sets 2014 preliminary levy

by Lorrie Ham

The Mayer City Council approved a preliminary 2014 tax levy in the amount of $1,009,018 at its meeting on Sept. 9. The proposed 2014 general fund budget was also approved in the amount of $1,348,580.
The proposed levy represents a 10.28 percent increase over the 2013 levy. City Administrator Luayn Murphy told the council that the proposed levy can be reduced during the budget process, but not increased. The proposed budget includes step increases for employees, an hourly wage increase for the street department and $50,000 in the fire department budget for a truck payment.
The required Truth in Taxation public hearing was set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9. The council will certify the budget and the final levy at this meeting as well.
In another matter, the council approved an expenditure of $34,994.46 to seal coat the city’s trails.
Jerry Van Dyke from Bargen, Inc. was at the meeting to discuss the project. Mayor Mike Dodge noted some residents’ concerns after the last seal coating about dark lines on the trails that made it appear that some areas were not properly coated.
Van Dyke explained that, in fact, the dark lines had extra product as a result of overspray. He assured the council that the entire trail gets an adequate coat but said it’s difficult to control the overspray that is a result of the process. Van Dyke said he could physically “squeegee” the trail, but the labor intensive process would add up to several thousand dollars to the cost of the project.
The trails were originally seal coated five years ago. Van Dyke, who did the initial project, said the coating could last longer this time since there is still some product on the trails and they are not as dry as they were the first time.
The council also authorized up to $5,000 to repair cracks in the trails prior to the seal coating. Council members discussed setting up a schedule of seal coating and repair for future years to prevent having to do the entire project at one time.
In other business, the council unanimously accepted the resignation of public works employee Jarred Loehrs effective Sept. 3. Administrator Murphy presented the council with a plan to increase contract employee Greg Kluver’s hours by one day per week and hire a part-time temporary employee to assist with city public works tasks until a new full time employee can be hired. The council voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with Councilmember Bruce Osborn opposed.
The city will advertise for a full time public works employee with plans that a new employee will be on board by the end of October, following the interview and selection process.
The council also passed a motion approving funds not to exceed $2,000 for the fire department open house, to be held Saturday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The funds will be used for food, give-away items, demonstrations and games, according to Administrator Murphy. Last year’s event, which was well attended, cost less than $1,000, she noted.