By Aaron Brom
The Hanover City Council reviewed its first draft of the preliminary budget, and with positive growth could lower the city’s tax rate.
The council also continued discussion regarding city financial contribution to maintaining the former Zion United Methodist Church building, and hired a third full-time public works position.
City Administrator Brian Hagen reviewed the first draft of next year’s preliminary budget.
City councils typically approve preliminary budgets in late summer/early fall ahead of final approval in December.
The total 2017 certified tax levy is $1.529 million, or about $40,000 higher than the 2016 tax levy.
Hagen said this year’s levy is likely to go up, but … “If we see a similar increase as in recent years, our tax rate would go down, and that’s a good thing.”
Hagen added that the city’s number one goal is to keep a flat tax rate, “And I think this year we’ve got a very good chance of lowering the tax rate,” he said.
Hagen cited positive growth such as from new homes and the new senior residence.
“The growth we’ve seen has been really favorable to increase the budget but not increase the tax rate to residents, plus we’re adding services,” he said.
The final numbers aren’t near certain yet, as staff will need to get expense factors such as the fire department’s budget. Hagen also said the city is budgeting for annual chip sealing projects that haven’t been budgeted in the past.
No further action was necessary at this time for the budget.
In other news, the council discussed a request from the Hanover Historical Society for the city to be a financial partner in maintaining the former Hanover Zion United Methodist Church property on River Road.
The church prefers the historical society to take over the old church and hall, with the city owning the adjacent cemetery.
The society would ultimately take ownership of the building and operate its functions there. Joe Kaul of the society was present and indicated that similar projects have seen city financial cooperation.
The City Council said it would like to crunch numbers before making a final decision, such as annual maintenance costs.
“Ultimately the City Council is most comfortable with the city only taking over the cemetery and not being a partner for the church building,” administrator Hagen later noted. “We’ll be trying to determine a historical aspect to the property outside of just Hanover’s view, such as a state or national register.”
The council tasked the historical society with items to address, such as the historical aspect. No further action was taken at this time, but the issue is expected to receive council attention in the next month.
In further matters, the council discussed hiring the third full-time public works position.
This position was budgeted for this year, but the council wanted more input before making the final decision; for example, staff spelled out the public works’ daily duties.
“We threw the public works tasks down on paper,” administrator Hagen said.
Ultimately, the council agreed it is time to hire the position and will begin the hiring process. One possibility is to hire a candidate who was interviewed before the recent open public works position was filled.