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Published November 30, 2012, 02:53 PM

East Grand Forks Leaders Agree on Tax Levy

In a compromise prompted by the threat of a mayoral veto, East Grand Forks city leaders informally have decided on a 4-percent increase in the city’s property tax levy.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

In a compromise prompted by the threat of a mayoral veto, East Grand Forks city leaders informally have decided on a 4-percent increase in the city’s property tax levy.

“Some wanted 10 percent and some wanted zero percent and there was no strong objection from anyone for this as a compromise,” said Scott Huizenga, the city administrator.

The consensus came after several weeks of budget talks. It’s expected to be made official at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Mayor Lynn Stauss vowed to veto any increase more than 5 percent.

“I’m trying to keep taxes down as much as possible at this time,” Stauss said.

“The feds look like they will raise taxes, the state probably will and our school may go for another referendum, so I think we have to be very cautious,” he said. “But I think that (4 percent) is reasonable.”

The 4-percent figure doesn’t mean city residents will see a 4-percent increase on property tax statements. It means the city’s total dollars collected by property taxes will increase 4 percent. Most of that 4-percent increase in revenue will come from new construction.

In fact, Huizenga said, East Grand Forks city residents likely will see an overall decline in their final property tax statement. That’s because value-inflated agricultural land will provide a larger share of the school district and county taxes collected.

The 4-percent levy increase is expected to create a $150,000 surplus, which is slotted to be used for the city’s outdoor swimming pool, whether it’s a renovation or a replacement. A new pool is estimated to cost $3.8 million to $4.3 million with repairs on the existing pool estimated at $1.5 million to $1.8 million.

The city’s biggest capital project for 2013 is $400,000 for improvements to the police department building.

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