DL council proposes $5.5 million levy, $23 million budget to be finalized in December

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The Detroit Lakes City Council approved a preliminary 2019 budget of $23,145,140, and a property tax levy of $5,498,426 at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The 2019 proposed budget and tax levy will be finalized following a public input meeting set for 6:01 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Though Finance Committee Chair Dan Wenner said the proposed 2018, payable 2019 levy marks a 7.52 percent increase over last year's final figure, the impact on the average homeowner would be minimal.

"The property tax on a $140,000 home will go up 70 cents (on average), while the tax on a $250,000 home will go up $1.42," he said.

Wenner also noted that about half of the proposed increase is due to a decrease in Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state, as well as the addition of two new police officers and a half-time city prosecutor.

Also at Tuesday night's meeting, the council set new water usage rates for Detroit Lakes Public Utilities customers, to take effect in 2019.

"An average residential customer will see their water bill increase by about $1 per month," stated DLPU General Manager Vernell Roberts in a memo to the council. "For commercial customers, the increase will be dependent upon the size of their meter. The outdoor watering rates will also increase."

Roberts noted that the new rates were based on a 2018 cost of service and rate study conducted by the city.

In other business, the council:

• Set a special meeting for 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20 to review bids and award a contract for parking lot improvements at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area.

• Approved a $8,200 proposal from Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) for engineering services to complete reauthorization of the city's municipal stormwater (MS4) permit with the State of Minnesota.

• Approved a resolution authorizing immediate abatement of an alleged nuisance at 215 E. Central St. in Detroit Lakes, after the owner failed to meet a compliance deadline set by the city. Numerous nuisance complaints have been filed against the property owner by neighbors, according to Priscilla Gurath, the city's code compliance officer.

• Approved application for a $50,000 Conservation Partners Legacy grant to remove an infestation of buckthorn at Sucker Creek Preserve. Buckthorn is classified as a noxious weed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.