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Afton approves 2014 preliminary budget

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Afton City Council has set the stage for 2014.

The body approved its preliminary budget and tax levy during an Aug. 26 special meeting.

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The 2014 preliminary budget was presented to City Council as $1,079,667, a 1.1 percent increase over the 2013 budget.

However, City Council made minor tweaks to the budget during its meeting and the final budget will most likely be less than a 1 percent increase, City Administrator Ron Moorse said.

The official budget amount was not available at the time the Bulletin went to press.

The 2014 preliminary levy was set at $1,648,929, which is a 2.88 percent increase. However, the final amount, following City Council changes, is expected to be lower and result in a roughly 2 percent increase, Moorse said.

The final levy amount was not readily available either.

With the approval of the preliminary budget and levy, City Council can no longer raise the amounts, only lower, prior to approval of the final budget.

Budget impacts

Some of the key items affecting Afton’s expenditures are:

  •  Building inspection fees are up $3,550, or 21.6 percent, to reflect actual fees due to additional construction activity. The fee expense is offset by increased building permit revenue, however.
  •  Fire and ambulance service expenditures are up $14,528, or 7.3 percent, to reflect the Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Department’s 2014 budget and a large cost share for Afton due to the cost allocation formula.
  • Fire Relief Association expenditure is down $3,000 to reflect an elimination in the deficit in pension funding.
  • Police service expenditures are up $2,344, or 1.4 percent, based on the estimated cost increase from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
  •  Snow and ice control expenditures are up $5,000, or 4.8 percent, to reflect actual expenditures.
  • Street surface maintenance, sweeping and pothole repair expenditures are proposed to increase by $9,000, or 42.9 percent, to reflect actual expenditures and increasing needs.
  • Brush, tree trimming, mowing and culver repair expenditures are reduced by $8,000, or 24.2 percent, to reflect actual expenditure levels.

The preliminary 2014 budget reflects no significant revenue changes.

In terms of transfers, the following changes were made:

  • The transfer to the street improvement fund is proposed to increase from $190,000 to $200,000, an increase of 5.3 percent
  • The transfer to unemployment compensation has been reduced from $10,000 to $3,000 to reflect adequate funding for unemployment compensation liability.
  • The transfer to sidewalk has been changed to a transfer for parks capital repairs, and has been increased from $2,000 to $4,000.

Additional revisions

Last month, City Council made several other revisions to its 2014 budget.

Those revisions included:

  •  Reduced the amount in the Parks Maintenance expenditure line-item from $5,200 to $1,200 and moved $2,000 to the Parks Capital Repairs fund.
  • Renamed the Train/Pedestrian Bridge levy item the Parks and Capital Repairs line-item and increased the funding from $3,500 to $5,500.
  • Added a $15,000 assessment to begin to fund the sewer assessment and hook-up costs, associated with the city’s levee project, at city buildings, including City Hall, the Afton Historic Museum and the Town Square Park restroom.
  • Increased expenditures for the well monitoring program from $500 to $1,000.
  •  Reducing Building Inspection Fees expense from $20,000 to $17,850 to accurately reflect the percentage of building permit fees received by the Building Inspector.

City Council will hold its Truth in Taxation Hearing and approve the 2014 budget and levy during its Dec. 17 meeting.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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