Albertville faces Sept. 4 levy deadline

Plans special meeting to review budget/administrator

The Albertville City Council recently met in a workshop to iron out details for the 2013 budget, and faces a Sept. 4 deadline to submit a preliminary levy.

At the budget workshop it became clear that the council is not on the same page about how to appropriate a $100,000 expense related to dismissing the previous city administrator, or how much to set the levy.

Interim city administrator Bob Thistle said staff is proposing a levy increase at just under 5 percent, with staff cost of living increases at 2.4 percent. The council did approve a cost of living increase for staff last year, but council members were hesitant to sign off on one this year.

Thistle and finance director Tina Lannes also proposed spreading general fund payments over a number of years rather than all at once. The $100,000 unfunded expense comes from hiring a temporary administrator and a search firm for a permanent administrator.

Staff said spreading the expense would bring the levy increase to 4.7 percent. The consensus was that the council favors an increase in the 2 percent to 2.5 percent range.

Not all council members favor spreading out the increase. Dan Wagner, for example, said the budget should assume the $100,000 expense. He and councilor Larry Sorensen felt spreading the expense was not responsible. Mayor Mark Meehan, on the other hand, liked the proposal.

The council was to meet Tuesday, Aug. 28, for a special meeting to further discuss the budget. Once a preliminary levy is set, the council can lower it before final budget approval in December but cannot raise it. Sept. 4 is the last date the council has before a levy must be submitted to the county.

Also at the special meeting Tuesday, the council was tasked with discussing the next steps for hiring a permanent administrator. This includes reviewing the report from the Springstead consulting group regarding the position profile and two job descriptions developed as a result of interviews with the council, selected staff and community leaders.

The council must accomplish two issues, determining which job description to adopt, and the implementation process for that decision. Either option will have fiscal implications for the 2013 budget.