Kasson approves 2016 budget, eight percent levy increase
The Kasson City Council last week approved a 2016 budget of just over $1.7 million and a $201,412 increase in the tax levy.
In a budget presentation to the council and public, City Finance Director Nancy Zaworski said that total spending for 2016 is an estimated $3.8 million. This figure, she said, includes the utilities funds which are self-supporting.
The funds which require the levy are the General Fund at $1,640,001, the Library Fund at $235,604 and the Economic Development Fund at $64,795. The expenses are funded not only by the tax levy but also fees which include the utility fees, local government aids and fund transfers.
The 2016 increased costs included the first year of a FEMA mapping project at $20,000 and added election year costs of $12,502. Street repair costs have increased and there are added costs at the ice arena.
Ice arena costs, she said, are partially offset by a cost-sharing agreement with Dodge County and a recent Mighty Ducks Grant of $100,000.
A big part of the increase, Zaworski said was that payroll and benefits for city employees increased by $61,000. This amount included a 2.5 percent cost of living increase and a 3.25 percent increase because of step increases.
Mayor Steve Johnson said that Kasson is the highest taxed town in the area pointing out that in the years since he moved into his home in 1999 his taxes have gone from $904 to $4,000. Much of the increase, he said, has been due to wage and benefit costs.
“It eats up your tax dollars,” he said.
Councilmember Dan Eggler suggested one way to save on salary costs would be to not replace the public works director position when current director Burt Fjerstad retires at the end of the year. The department’s three supervisors, he said, could report instead to the city administrator.
The supervisors are the ones in charge now anyway, he said. Eliminating the position would be a huge savings, he said.