The Rockford City Council held a truth-in-taxation hearing at the beginning of its Dec. 10 meeting.
The purpose of the hearing is to allow residents the opportunity to comment on the dollar amount the city proposes to levy taxpayers for the upcoming year before it becomes final.
No one came forward during the hearing to comment or challenge the amount of the proposed levy, or budget, at this meeting.
The 2014 proposed budget for the city of Rockford is $1.98 million. This represents an increase of $147,696, or 8 percent, over the 2013 budget of $1.83 million.
The proposed levy for 2014 is nearly $1.47 million, with an increase of $24,019, or 1.6 percent over the city’s 2013 levied amount of $1.44 million.
A brief breakdown of some of the bigger expenses the city prepared to meet in 2014 included safety (police and fire) at $493,390, streets (significant maintenance and improvement projects are scheduled to begin in 2014) at $483,350, administration and city hall costs at $457,465, and costs associated to the library and parks at $255,559.
Insurance and proposed wage increases, a plan to replace two public works vehicles and improvements to the parks are some of the items that contributed to the increase in the proposed budget. It is also expected that electrical, gas utility and worker’s compensation and liability insurance costs will increase in 2014.
Good news for the 2014 financial picture is that the local government aid amount for 2014 increased by $143,601 to $453,290. The city also expects to see a savings of about $25,000 next year due to a sales tax exemption that will go into effect after the first of the year.
The council unanimously approved both the budget and final levy for 2014 with the proposed figures.
ROAD REALIGNMENT PROJECT
Rockford City Administrator Nancy Carswell explained a grant opportunity that staff was made aware of by a Wright County commissioner and engineer. If successful in obtaining the grant, the money — up to 80 percent of project costs — could be used to realign County Road 32 and its access to the eastbound lane of State Highway 55. The intersection is a tricky and potentially dangerous one because the county road is not perpendicular to the highway at a 90-degree angle and poses line-of-sight issues for those accessing the highway and maneuverability issues for some vehicles trying to access the county road from the eastbound lane. Because the intersection will be used to access the city’s proposed west industrial park, it needs to be able to accommodate large trucks.
Carswell said that the grant does require a 20 percent funds match and suggested that the city could ask Wright County and the Highway 55 Coalition to contribute to the project and include any uncovered costs associated with the realignment as part of developing the city’s second industrial park.
The council approved a resolution authorizing staff to pursue an application for federal Surface Transportation Program funding through the Central Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership.
The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council is at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, at Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main St. The Rockford City Hall will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 24, and Wednesday, Dec. 25.