by TaLeiza Calloway
St. Joseph City Council members approved the city’s final budget and property-tax levy for the coming year.
The 2013 budget is about about $2.4 million, an increase of about 7 percent from this year. The 2012 budget was about $2.25 million.
The increase stems from the city reinstating previous reductions. Examples include the addition of a three-fourths time staff person versus a half-time staff person and the addition of a full-time police officer who will begin halfway through the year. Some capital funding was also added in for street-maintenance projects, such as seal-coating and crack-filling.
City officials approved a final tax levy of about $1.77 million, an increase of about 6.75 percent from this year’s levy. The 2012 levy was about $1.66 million, a decrease of about 7 percent from 2011.
The levy increase was necessary to cover the general-fund budget increase, Finance Director Lori Bartlett said previously.
During the budget discussion, council member Steve Frank asked the council to reconsider the city’s membership in the St. Cloud Regional Human Rights Commission. Though Frank initially voted in favor of the city’s ending its membership, he thought it should be revisited.
Richard Cousin, human rights enforcement officer for the St. Cloud regional office, and St. Cloud City Administrator Mike Williams attended the meeting to encourage officials to rethink their decision and provide additional information. Members of the St. Cloud Human Rights Commission also attended.
St. Joseph resident Sam Johnson read a statement on behalf of his wife, Anne Buckvold, who was unable to attend. Buckvold supports the city’s participation on the human rights commission.
“I believe the St. Cloud Human Rights Office helps to build and protect an important cornerstone of our healthy community,” Buckvold wrote in her statement. “This is precisely why St. Joseph should continue its funding.”
The city council voted 3-2 against reconsideration of the membership. Frank and council member Renee Symanietz were in the minority. St. Joseph had 17 inquiries last year and one complaint. Other than St. Cloud, St. Joseph was the only area city that previously voted to join the commission.