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City levy to rise 4.6%

The Detroit Lakes City Council set the levy for the upcoming year at 4.6 percent, an increase of about $173,000.

City Finance Officer Pam Slifka said Tuesday night that there were several reasons for the increase. A rise in health insurance costs for employees was the biggest one at $75,000.

Other increases that warranted the levy increase included wages ($40,000), adding a part-time police officer ($34,000), more street and park hours ($25,000), workmen’s comp premium increase ($15,000) and debt service on bonds ($32,000). Another increase ($50,000) came from the library and technology fund. Slifka said that the city hasn’t budgeted for any capital improvements to the library for several years, and there has never even been a technology fund in the past.

The increase in the levy will translate into about $12 a year on a $100,000 house and $72 a year for a $250,000 commercial property.

“When you add in Long Lake, those numbers will go down,” she said.

The city just finished annexing residences around Long Lake, and the city wasn’t able to get the taxable numbers from the county on those properties yet. Though those extra properties will help the tax base a little, Alderman Bruce Imholte said it’s not the tax base that inspires the city to annex land.

Through the orderly annexation of Long Lake, which he said was requested from the residents, it will actually cost the city lots more money to bring infrastructure to the area. Slifka added that services like police and fire will need to be expanded out there as well, costing the city more money.

Local government aid has always been a hot topic for the city of Detroit Lakes as it depends on the state funds to help keep taxes down. About 10 years ago, the city was receiving a fairly large amount of money from the government, around $1 million.

The amount then fell drastically and has just started to stabilize and climb back up in the last few years. In 2013, the city received $691,000, and in 2014, it is estimated that Detroit Lakes will receive $782,000 in LGA.

“It’s moving back in a positive direction and we’re extremely happy for that,” Slifka said of the LGA. “The city has been good stewards of the money it has been given.”

She figured that if the city didn’t receive the bump in LGA, the city’s levy would increase about 8 percent.

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