By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE, MN The Howard Lake City Council and city administrators Nick Haggenmiller and Aurora Yager met Sept. 5 to take a high overhead look at the anticipated 2019 city budget.
Highlights discussed included:
Local Government Aid (LGA) is nearly flat year after year. For example, the City of Howard Lake expects an increase in LGA funds in 2019 of approximately $853.
A $20,000 revenue line has been added to the city’s general fund for 2019. This is for revenue to be collected from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Schools (HLWW) for provision of the school resource officer.
The Howard Lake Police Department is typically reimbursed for approximately 50 percent of training costs incurred by its officers by the State of Minnesota. City administration currently expects this reimbursement to add approximately $4,000 to city coffers.
The City of Howard Lake may enter into a cost-share with Wright County for cooperative snow removal. For 2019, $10,000 is expected in revenue from the proposed cost-share.
The city has proceeds available from the property transaction of Forsman Farms. In 2019, approximately $36,118 of those proceeds will pay for a portion of the industrial park’s debt.
In 2019, Howard Lake’s TIF interfund loan and administration fees will bring in approximately $21,000. The majority of this funding will come from an interfund loan with Forsman Farms.
Finally, the city anticipates the creation and implementation of a Rental Property Ordnance, which will bring in administrative fees.
A current estimate suggests 30 percent, or more than 200 dwellings of the single-family homes within the city are renter occupied. All rental properties would need to be inspected per the new rental property ordinance. At this time, the plan is in its infancy, however it is anticipated that the city would hire Metro West Inspection Services, and the city would do a “pass through” of inspection fees. City staff anticipate inspection services would bring in $16,000 which would be representative of license fees received, and inspection fees paid out.
The City of Howard Lake expects to bond for the city hall preservation project. City staff indicated that the notes could be scheduled with gradual increases in debt service payments. The city expects approximately $90,000 in debt service for the historic city hall preservation project per year for the next 15 years.
The City of Howard Lake recently paid for a job classification study, with any disparities to be corrected in 2019.
The city intends to implement a step or grade system for its employees.
The new system places each city employee on the correct step for what they currently earn. The majority of city staff will not notice a significant difference in their paychecks; about 2.3 percent.
The job classification study did uncover one large disparity between average pay for a position, and what the city has actually been paying. Howard Lake’s police chief has been significantly underpaid, and will see an increase of $6,569 in salary in 2019. This places the chief at the new minimum for his position.
The compensation study recommended reducing the city’s accountant/treasurer position to .69 full time equivalent (FTE). City staff health insurance is expected to rise two percent. No part-time positions will see pay adjustments.
Minor adjustments are expected in public works, the fire department, and the police department.
City council wages evoked the most conversation. Rates have not been adjusted since 2010. The city councils of 2014 and 2016 used potential wage increases for other things, such as the provision of laptop computers for each councilor.
The Howard Lake Cemetery Board, primarily represented by its chairman, Al Munson, (also a member of the city council) will discuss cost sharing in the near future, and if city staff assistance could be provided for maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery.
Two levy options under consideration
The city council is currently reviewing two very different levy options.
The first scenario implements a 4.49 percent increase.
The second scenario implements a 9.58 percent increase, and adds an additional $45,000 of the anticipated annual $90,000 debt service, specifically designated to pay for the historic city hall renovation project.
See scenario break-down chart for further details. The council will begin looking more closely at the 2019 budget at its next study session slated for Wednesday, Sept. 19.