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Paynesville Press - December 25, 2002

Paynesville Township proposes levy increase

By Peter Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to recommend a levy increase of $54,000 for 2003 to township residents. The township levy has been at $331,000 for the last two years, and an increase of $54,000 would raise the levy to $385,000 for 2003, an increase of 16 percent.

The proposed levy increase will be presented to township residents at the annual meeting in March.

The suggested increase includes $15,000 for a new arena fund. Of that, $10,000 would go for debt reduction, repaying the township's road and bridge fund, since the township paid off the debt on the arena this year using that account. The other $5,000 would be put in a fund for future repairs at the arena.

Other suggested increases are $5,000 for fire, $10,000 for snow, $5,000 for road and bridge, $4,000 for police protection, and $15,000 for recreation. This recreation money includes $5,000 for parks, $5,000 for arena operation (including providing open skating), and $5,000 for Community Education (which runs summer recreation).

These monies for recreation were previously provided by the township as donations, but now would be budgeted items.

In recent years, the township has given nearly 17 percent in donations, above its self-imposed limit of 10 percent. If the levy increase is approved, the township's donations would be back under 10 percent.

The board will also consider using new criteria for their charitable contributions in the future. The board has looked at the Paynesville Area Charity Fund and thinks if taxpayers have the opportunity to give directly to a charitable organization, then perhaps the township should not give to that same organization.

The only change in the levy proposal from November, when the township board first discussed an increase, was cutting a $5,000 levy for the pool and the recreational trail, reducing the overall proposed levy increase from $59,000 to $54,000. The police fund, recreation fund, and arena fund are all part of the revenue fund, which accounts for $34,000 of the proposed increase.

Fund2002 Levy 2003 Proposal Proposed Increase
Fire$20,000 $25,000 $5,000
Snow$15,000 $25,000 $10,000
Road & Bridge$170,000 $175,000 $5,000
Revenue$126,000 $160,000 $34,000
TOTAL$331,000 $385,000 $54,000
River Lakes--0 0 0
River Lakes--0 0 0

Clerk Don Wiese presented the board with some research from the Stearns County Auditor's Office. On a $100,000 valuation, Wiese said, township taxes would increase $48.43 for the proposed levy increase. Wiese also pointed out to the board that township taxes have gone down in the past two years because the township levy has stayed the same while the township's valuation has increased.

Supervisor John Atwood stated that he received a 1.2 percent increase in his Social Security check, and the proposed increase in the township levy would use up that entire increase. "It's going to be tough on people out there on fixed incomes," he said.

"If there is some way to cut back (on the increase), we need to do it now," said board chairman Don Pietsch, before the board voted on the levy increase.

Atwood, supervisor Pat Meagher, and Pietsch voted unanimously to recommend the $54,000 levy increase for 2003 to township residents in March.

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