Liquor store fined
Even with an anticipated loss of 20 percent of its revenue from building permits, licenses and other fees, City of Scandia taxpayers can expect their share of local property taxes to stay the same in 2021.
During the Scandia City Council’s initial budget workshop last week, City Administrator Ken Cammilleri proposed a local tax levy of $1,484,700, a zero percent increase over 2020.
The city was able to keep its tax levy flat between 2016-2019 due primarily to surplus building permit revenues, but increased the levy by 7 percent in 2020.
The 2021 budget proposal, as discussed at the Aug. 18 meeting, included a total of $1,617,900 in revenue from taxes, which is an 8 percent total revenue increase over last year. That amount includes $116,200 from a state revenue source, a source not reported and accounted for as tax revenue in past years.
The council has until Sept. 30 to certify the city’s tax levy, after which the amount may decrease but cannot increase.
The 2021 budget calls for increasing the city’s part-time office assistant/parks and recreation coordinator from 22 to 32 hours per week.
Cammilleri and City Treasurer Colleen Firkus noted that demand for services from the public and the amount of work asked of city staff has increased significantly over the past three years.
“We all feel very swamped in the office,” Cammilleri said.
The cost increase for the additional staffing will be about $28,360 for wages and benefits.
The city’s capital improvements plans in 2021 include: local road improvements ($895,000); possible improvements for the Scandia Community Center building ($600,000); site planning for a possible second fire station ($180,000); broadband internet expansion, depending on if another grant is received ($165,005); new radio equipment for the fire department ($75,000); a new pick-up truck with a plow for the city’s public works department ($43,500); and replacement of the playground equipment at the Wayne Erickson Memorial Ball Park ($57,000), which will be paid for through a grant.
The budget also calls for a 5 percent across-the-board fee increase for users of the three sewer systems, the fourth such rate increase in four years. The aging sewer systems, which are entirely user funded, are anticipating as much as $1.2 million worth of infrastructure repairs by 2025.
Liquor store fined
Scandia Olde Towne Liquor will be closed for three consecutive to-be-determined days, after the business sold alcohol to a minor and failed a compliance check last December. The store was also given a $1,000 fine, the minimum penalty required by city ordinance for a second violation in a three-year period.
Speaking at the city’s public hearing last week, the business’s owner, Adrian Franssen, apologized for the infraction and noted his nearly 60 years in the liquor business, and 26 in Scandia, prior to having any violation.
“We passed 100 percent for the first 56 years,” Franssen said.
The council agreed to allow Franssen to choose the dates of the three-day suspension.
The council members also agreed to revisit the city’s liquor license ordinance, noting that the minimum fines seemed exorbitant.
• The council granted an on-sale liquor license to the newly approved Rustic Roots Winery, which intends to serve craft beer in addition to wine made on site. Owner Andrea Sandager said the winery intends to be open by Labor Day weekend.
• The council accepted a $3,800 donation from the Scandia Marine Lions Club to install an accessible sidewalk between the parking lot and the Hay Lake Park picnic shelter.
• The council approved a new contract with its city assessor, Patrick Poshek for 2021-2024. The assessor charges the city a flat fee of $1,800 per month beginning in May of next year.
The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Note: This article has been revised from the print edition to correct the proposed local tax levy amount and include additional information on the city's revenue budget.