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Municipalities Discuss 2024 Budgets and Tax Levies

The Pine City Council pushed back the approval of its 2024 budget and tax levy following a contentious discussion. 

The city held its truth-and-taxation hearing on Dec. 6. According to staff, the city was looking to pass a levy of $2.4 million with no changes from the preliminary levy passed earlier this year. 

During the hearing, residents voiced concerns over the increases, including Dan Swanson, who was one of many asking for the city to take a harder look at the budget because of inflation. 

“We don’t have the ability to levy our employers for an 18% increase,” Swanson said. “We don’t have the ability to tell the power company, ‘Hey, I’m going to pay 18% less this month, because I ain’t got it.’ I hear a lot about wants and needs, and I really encourage the council to take a look at what our wants are right now, and what our needs are.”

A group of residents told the council that the tax increases would price them out of their homes. Others want the city to look at raising revenues in other ways like licensing fees, taxing AirBnBs in the city, or selling the old courthouse at 315 Main Street.

After more than an hour of discussion and complaints about access to the budget, Mayor Carl Pederson called for a special meeting. 

“I want that sent out,” Pederson said. “I want a special meeting in two weeks. I want everybody back here, we’ll talk about it. We’ll start early, fair enough?”

The council has set a special meeting for Wednesday, Dec. 20. They invite city residents to attend to continue budget discussions.  

The Braham City Council adopted the 2024 budget and tax levy after a quiet truth-in-taxation hearing on Tuesday.

The city’s property tax levy was set at $1,533,472, marking an 8.82% increase from 2023. 

To reach that levy, Braham eliminated a streets employee and eliminated two police department positions that are currently vacant.

City administrator Tyler Treichel said he’s hopeful one officer can be hired in August of 2024.

Mayor Nate George thanked the council for making difficult decisions for budget reductions.

“I know, statewide, for cities the average increase this year is 8%,” George said. “So we’re right on track with everyone else in the state of Minnesota. Considering where we started, it’s excellent work by our staff.”

Other East Central Minnesota municipalities also adopted their tax levies and budgets last week. 

Cambridge unanimously approved a total levy of $6,833,555, up about 9 percent from last year.

Foley also adopted a levy of $1.4 million. Last year’s levy was set at about $1.28 million.

Photo of 12/6/23 Pine City Truth and Taxation hearing. Taken by Joe Keyport.

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