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DL sets $5.1 million tax levy, tax rate drops 8%

The Detroit Lakes City Council approved a $5.1 million certified levy and $30 million budget for 2018 at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

The total levy of $5,114,009 marks a 6.2 percent increase from last year, according to City Administrator Kelcey Klemm — yet thanks to a 15 percent increase in the city's tax capacity, the overall tax rate will decrease by about 8 percent, he added.

What that means, Klemm said, is that on a $160,000 home, the tax bill should amount to about $560 — a $48 decrease from 2017 — while the taxes on a $500,000 commercial property would amount to about $3,779, a drop of $327.

The increase in tax capacity also means that Detroit Lakes is a growing city, Klemm added, which is a good thing — but that translates to a decrease in local government aid (LGA) from the state.

"Our local government aid will decrease about $91,000 next year," Klemm said, adding that Detroit Lakes is receiving about $800,000 less in annual LGA funds than it did in 2001, when state aid to the city reached its peak.

This, in turn, accounted for about 2 percent of the city's overall tax levy increase for next year, Klemm added. Other reasons for the increase included the addition of a new full-time police officer to the city's law enforcement staff, the ramping up of the joint city-county project to extend the runway at the airport, and ongoing street and utility infrastructure improvements.

After approving the levy, the council approved a $30,663,038 budget for 2018, including $6.3 million for the general fund, $652,183 for debt service, $4,477,825 for special assessments, $13,156,809 for special revenue funds and $6,070,215 for the liquor store.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council approved union contracts with its Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) employees for 2018 and 2019.

The contracts both called for a 2.75 percent wage increase in both 2018 and 2019, and insurance contributions of up to $1,200 per month for family coverage in 2018, and up to $1,275 per month in 2019.

In other action, the council approved a conditional use permit for construction of a helipad on the campus of Essentia Health-St. Mary's, to be used for emergency medical transportation.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454