by Dennis Dalman
Sartell residents and businesses might want to do a double-take about the estimated-tax notices they received in the mail in November.
The Sartell City Council, at a public hearing, revised the estimated preliminary budget from November, and it is now officially lower. The lower amount was possible through judicious cuts as well as more revenue than anticipated, including, at long last, some aid from the state.
Most will find their taxes will be the same or less for 2014. In some cases, if property values have increased, there may be increases in taxes, but most people’s will not increase, said Sartell Financial Director Mary Degiovanni.
At its last meeting, the Sartell City Council approved a budget for 2014 of $5,774,233 and a tax levy of $4,703,608. The difference between the levy and budget amount will be covered by a combination of revenue, including fees for city services and $110,000 in local government aid from the state, the first time in many years Sartell and other cities will receive any state aid.
Another plus for the city was the state’s decision to exempt many city purchases from the sales tax. That, Degiovanni said, will save Sartell about $37,600 in general-fund dollars and another $30,000 in other fund balances.
The tax levy for 2014 is about $160,000 less than estimated in the preliminary budget from last month.
Degiovanni noted Sartell still has the lowest property-tax rate of all the five cities in the greater St. Cloud area.
The Sartell City Council voted unanimously at its last meeting to approve the 2014 budget and tax levy.
Council member Sarah Jane Nicoll, who made the motion for approval, said she was thrilled to see the city holding the tax flat this year for the first time in years.
Member David Peterson, who seconded the motion, thanked the city staff for their hard work to keep the levy down. He called it a “wonderful job” of fiscal responsibility.
Member Steve Hennes noted there was no spoken or written testimony at the public hearing, which he said is a sign the city “must be doing something right” when it comes to budgeting and taxation.