Aldermen get first peek at 2015 budget outlook
August 26. 2014 1:02PM
Administrators at City Hall say increases in utility rates and property taxes for Dell Rapids residents are inevitable if pressing infrastructure needs are going to be met.
A proposed $5.64 million budget, presented to aldermen during a special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 19, calls for a spending reduction in 2015 – the city is operating on an $8.27 million budget this year. Despite the scaled back budget, modest utility rate and property tax hikes are being recommended to address a growing list of maintenance projects on the city’s capital improvement plan.
“We’re not putting in any large-scale, million-dollar plus type of improvements that we’ve seen in the past several year, so it’s going to be kind of a skinny budget,” said City Administrator Justin Weiland, who drafted the budget presented to the council last week. “We’re going to emphasize maintenance and the replacement of the older infrastructure.”
Starting in 2015, the city plans to begin replacing aging water and sewer mains throughout Dell Rapids. The proposed budget calls for spending about $400,000 next year to replace utilities along Northview Drive and portions of 10th and 11th streets. Homeowners in the neighborhood have complained about murky water since 2013.
Weiland recommended increasing water and sewer rates by three percent to brace for the 70 blocks of utility lines that have been identified for future replacement.
The increase in rates would equate to about $15 more each year for the average resident.
A $250,000 line item to cover chip sealing for about seven miles of city streets, or 35,000 lineal feet, is proposed in 2015. Another $150,000 is budgeted for milling and replacing the asphalt along a three-stretch block of Iowa Avenue.
The council is also considering a 5 percent increase for the Dell Rapids Fire Department, a 1.9 percent increase for the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and a one-time $70,000 expense for a new grandstand at Rickeman Field.
A growing economy is expected to bring in an additional $35,000 next year, according to a growth projection rate of 3.67 percent set by the Minnehaha County Auditor’s Office.
But that’s not enough if the city expects to keep up with an aging infrastructure while at the same investing in economic development, Weiland said.
Weiland recommended raising the mill levy to 5.548 mills, up from this year’s levy of 5.504 mills. That’s an increase of $7.50 for every $100,000 of property value. The increase would bring an additional $13,488 to city coffers in 2015.
“There might be a lot of changes,” Weiland said, cautioning that the proposed budget faces two rounds of scrutiny from the city council. “I’m anticipating a lot of things will be shifted around.”
Aldermen Craig Lauritzen, Gary Haak, Mark Crisp and Lee Burggraff were not present at last week’s budget meeting.