Otsego approves reduced levy

by Dawn Feddersen Poindexter

Contributing Writer

The Otsego City Council approved a reduced 2014 tax levy and 2014-2018 capital improvement plan. The council members postponed adoption of their budget so changes can be made to reflect the levy reduction.

The council approved a 2014 property tax levy of $4.5 million, a $40,000 decrease from the proposed tax levy that was approved in September. The levy still reflects a $120,000 increase from 2013, though the city’s overall tax rate went down more than 1 percent.

According to Lori Johnson, Otsego city administrator, more than $50,000 of the increase from 2013 is due to cost increases for police and fire services.

The general fund receives 81 percent of its funding from the property tax levy, so a vote was postponed on the budget until staff could accommodate the council’s $40,000 reduction from the property tax levy.

City staff had proposed a 2014 general fund budget of $4.08 million. From this amount, the largest expense, police and fire, consumes 32 percent; then there’s 25 percent for streets, 22 percent on administration, 11 percent on parks and recreation, and the remainder distributed between a number of smaller categories.

A revised 2014 budget is expected to come before the council in January.

Capital improvements

The city of Otsego’s capital improvement plan for 2014-2018 is full of projects in every category, from fun and family-friendly to expensive and necessary.

These include trail improvements from Queens Avenue to the river, a pre-kindergarten play structure at School Knoll Park, adding water and electricity to Prairie Park, city entrance signs and stormwater maintenance.

There are also road projects planned for County State-Aid Highway 39, 85th Street from Nashua Avenue to Mason Avenue, Jalger Avenue and 100th Street, and an overhaul that will connect 70th Street all the way across town.

Funding for the improvements in the plan vary, but some of the contributors include the city’s pavement management fund, street reconstruction fund, stormwater funds, revolving capital improvements fund and assessments.