An increase in the city of Merrill’s debt load, primarily due to the construction of a new fire station, is pushing a hike in the city’s proposed tax levy for 2014.
Following a budget meeting last Tuesday, the proposed tax levy is up 7.1 percent from last year (the increase was initially noted at 12.6 percent, but after further review an error was discovered in the calculations for debt service, resulting in the revision to 7.1 percent).
The city’s operations budget has been held to a zero percent increase, while payments on the city’s debt are up due to $5.5 million in new borrowing. The big ticket items in that borrowing are the fire station ($3.5 million), reconstruction of Taylor Street ($450,000) and a new fire truck ($370,000).
“The increase that we’re looking at is all because of borrowed money, not operations,” said City Administrator Dave Johnson.
“With a number of cuts, we go to zero percent for operations. All the increase is in debt service,” added Finance Director Kathy Unertl.
The city’s Common Council met as a Committee of the Whole Tuesday night to further review the budget. Information from that meeting was not available at press time.
As the budget sat prior to last night’s meeting, the proposed tax rate of $13.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value was up from last year’s $12.51. That would mean a $67 tax increase per $75,000 of assessed value.
The Merrill Common Council will hold a public hearing on the city’s 2014 budget on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall. The proposed budget is available for review at the Clerk-Treasurer’s counter in City Hall, at the T.B. Scott Library, or on the City’s website http://ci.merrill.wi.us.