by April Scheinoha
Compromises were made during the 2022 budget process for the City of Thief River Falls.
“I’m happy with what we’ve come up with this year,” said Mayor Brian Holmer, who noted that no one got everything he wanted from the 2022 budget.
At its meeting on Tuesday, December 21, the Thief River Falls City Council approved the budget and property tax for 2022.
The budget provides for income of $ 36,704,443 from all funds and $ 36,421,474 to expenses from all funds. It also provides for a transfer of $ 282,969 to reserves.
Although the council approved the 2022 budget, Councilor Rachel Prudhomme continued to express her displeasure over the payment of $ 25,000 to Advance Thief River to fuel economic development in the area. Michelle Landsverk, Executive Director, has started submitting monthly reports to the Council. “This is nothing new,” said Prudhomme of Landsverk’s December report. She added that much of Landsverk’s cited work relates to Christine Anderson’s programming at the Small Business Development Center in Crookston. Anderson’s work is freely available to the city.
In addition, Prudhomme said she was angry that the city’s taxpayers were paying such a large amount to Advance Thief River. In particular, she noted that the city’s taxpayers pay double as both the city and county donate money to Advance Thief River.
Pennington County has invested $ 25,000 in Advance Thief River. Advance Thief River is contributing an additional $ 25,000.
Prudhomme suggested that the council should instead donate funds to the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce, Visit Thief River Falls, and the SBDC, which promote Thief River Falls for free.
Councilor Steve Narverud, an ex officio member of the Advance Thief River Board, said most of Anderson’s work in Thief River Falls was the result of Advance Thief River seeking her help. He said the SBDC only employs three people for the entire northwest region of Minnesota.
Prudhomme asked why the city is paying Advance Thief River when the SBDC is doing the job.
Narverud responded that part of what Advance Thief River is doing is figuring out what needs to be done and who can help achieve that goal. He invited his fellow councilors to a meeting.
Holmer has also raised concerns about paying $ 25,000 to Advance Thief River. Holmer, who owns Michael’s Meats in downtown Thief River Falls, said the chamber is providing a lot of help to downtown businesses. He asked if the council should start making funds available to the chamber to keep an executive director on staff. Holmer added that the council needs to consider what it is paying and receiving for such a payment. Like Prudhomme, he also stated that the townspeople pay more than their fair share for Advance Thief River since they are residents of both the town and the county.
In a separate motion, the council set the property tax levy at $ 2,959,824, up 5.86% from 2021. This amount includes a General Fund levy of $ 2,134,624 and a bond levy of $ 825,200.
The city tax increases by $ 1.83 for a $ 100,000 home. For a $ 200,000 commercial property, city taxes would add $ 8.28. These increases do not take into account a change in the estimated market value of a particular property.
In September the council approved a higher provisional property tax levy, which would have been an increase of 7.59%. Two months later, councilors recommended lowering the increase to 5.86%.
Councilor Curt Howe felt the city had done a good job with its budgetary process. He found that the Detroit Lakes property tax levy had increased more than 10%.
The city council has approved the contract for executives, administrative, technical and supervisory employees for 2021. As part of the decision, the council also approved revisions of the agreements with City Councilor Angie Philipp and Personnel Officer LeAnn Engelstad.
These municipal employees will receive a salary increase of 1.75% retroactively from January 1, 2021. The current MAPS contract expired on December 31, 2020, and the ad hoc working committee negotiated with representatives from MAPS over the past year. Wage increases for the city administrator and the personnel officer have generally followed the MAPS contract for many years.
The council approved tax breaks on 21 properties for a total of $ 15,091.71.
Those who received inheritance tax breaks included Lester John Larson, Adrian Prestebak, Bryce Gillie, Lori Alvarado, Shelby Erickson, Donita Stepan, Kellie Dagg, Tanner Nessen, Brandi Dorge, Mackenzie Swick, Jeremiah Nichols, Diana Donarski, Tanner Dicken, Wendall Wegge , Marcia Sandahl, Jamie Englund, Suresh Sreedharan, Steven Keogh, Christina Pribyl, Duane and Wendy Horras and Margaret Kaste. Six of the respective properties are in the first year of the program and nine of the respective properties are in the second year, while three each are in the third and fourth years of the program.
City tax reductions for new single-family homes are planned as part of the program. Excluding the land value, home construction cannot exceed $ 160,000 for homes built before June 2015 and $ 200,000 for homes built after that date. Without an assessment, taxes are waived for three years, then seven years.
Pennington County is cutting county taxes as part of this program. The school district is only lowering school district taxes on new single-family homes in the Greenwood Neighborhood Addition of the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation.