The Marine on St. Croix City Council moved to set the 2020 levy at $940,558.51 representing a 6.26% increase over 2019 during their monthly meeting Dec. 12. This was reduced from the maximum levy of $1,192,658.60 set in September following a Truth in Taxation meeting Dec. 3, where a village hall full of constituents voiced their hopes and concerns with city council.
“There was discussion during the meeting that most towns don’t set a max levy and then cut – that’s incorrect,” said councilmember Bill Miller at the December meeting. “It’s a practice that big cities and small cities actually work through because they think it’s a good process for input, and I am very happy with the input we had at our TNT meeting. I’m extremely happy with all the opinions, what people had to say and all the learning that went on.”
The initial 34.74% maximum levy set September 12 could be reduced but not increased at a later date, so cuts were made from the proposed levy to reach the 6.26% levy set in December. Those cuts are detailed below.
With many differing ideas from Marine residents coming to the table, it was difficult to satisfy all of them, which brought tension between citizens and their representatives. Councilmember, Charlie Anderson, addressed that tension in an interview with the Messenger.
“I think the biggest issue seems to be a sense among constituents that this is somehow abnormal, which it’s not,” Anderson said. “We can always be more transparent, but I think it would be much more helpful if we could get as much input for our proposed levy, which is required by law to be set by September, as we do at the actual Truth in Taxation meeting.”
“There have been times in the past where the proposed levy is quite large, then the Truth in Taxation meeting occurs and that’s where we cut,” he said. “After the meeting, I had some citizens come up to me and say, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t have cut certain things’ and had some say, ‘maybe we should have cut a couple things more.’ To me, it was a very good reminder of the tension- and I don’t mean tension in a bad way- between those who are being taxed, and those who are setting tax policy.”
Cuts made to the proposed levy include:
•$100,000 for roadwork proposed in case of additional funding needed for Judd Street overhaul
•$70,000 reduced to a $5000 “placeholder” for a future picnic shelter. Anderson plans to seek additional funding for placeholder projects like this.
•$60,000 was cut for Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA’s) for the fire department. It was decided that they have time to pursue a grant before they expire.
•$25,000 cut from “screening” for more visible porta-pottys and more highly visible dumpsters.
•$3,000 reduced to a $500 “placeholder” for future canoe rack project.