Albertville’s needs exceed levy increase comfort zone

Albertville city staff has identified service needs that, if funded, would exceed the city’s comfort range for a levy increase.

At a recent budget workshop, finance director Tina Lannes said that to maintain the current services, the levy increase would be about 3.19 percent. She said staff identified several unfunded items for the council to review, such as public works full-time employee, full-time fire chief, increasing street maintenance funding, adding funds for fire capital replacement, increasing trails capital, and increasing general capital reserves.

Mayor Jillian Hendrickson and the council discussed both full-time public works and fire chief positions and possibly staggering one or both to occur midyear in order to reduce the budget impact. City administrator Adam Nafstad said the fire department would be discussing the proposed full-time fire chief position at its next meeting, and the council agreed to wait and see if the majority of fire members favor a full-time chief position.

Another unfunded item is a council salary increase, and the council agreed it would not increase its salaries.

Councilor Rob Olson said all the budget items are justified but cannot be funded at one time and would be too much of a levy percentage increase. Nafstad said staff needs to fund these items or they would need to be bonded.

Councilor John Vetsch said this is just the city portion of taxes and that the county and school districts would most likely have levy increases. He wants to make sure Albertville is a place businesses and citizens wish to reside.

Lannes said that to add one of the larger unfunded items and keep the levy increase at 3 percent, the city would need to cut capital, and staff can’t make that recommendation. Lannes asked each council member to rank their top three unfunded items and the top levy increase. The council’s levy range was an increase between 3.4 percent and 6 percent.

Nafstad concluded that staff would come to the next workshop with a base budget and several different options for unfunded items.