Joel Young, Chatfield's city clerk, presented the council with information regarding the 2014 proposed budget during its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 9. The city of Chatfield's proposed preliminary levy for 2014 was $24 less than last year and was certified at a .002 percent decrease. The city will still be able to decrease the levy before budget and levy finalizations take place in December.

Young explained several goals relating to the 2014 Operating and Capital Budget. It was the city's goal to keep the 2014 property tax levy near the 2013 rate in order to decrease tax burdens on citizens. Councilman Ken Jacobson noted that even with a slight levy decrease, taxes could still go up based on tax capacity.

Another goal was to decrease sanitary sewer debt by allocating more dollars from the General Fund to pay off the department's debt service. It was reported in a memorandum to the council that the cost of the sanitary sewer system still exceeds the amount of revenue toward the system.

It was mentioned that the city will see roughly $9,000 in savings from the new 2014 sales tax exemptions. Young said this was essentially revenue for the city. Other revenue will come from an $84,000 increase in Local Government Aid revenue and $3,600 from a water tower space lease.

The city is also expecting a couple of major additional expenditures. The Chatfield Center for the Arts will receive approximately $35,000 to cover basic operating costs. The city is also expecting to pay off $20,000 in debt.

Other increases to the budget include additions in the following areas. The fire department is expecting their allocation to increase by $4,500 in 2014 for truck and equipment purchases. The library will receive an additional $6,774, which represents a 5.8 percent increase. This increase is due to the Board of Trustees no longer using Endowment Fund interest to support operations. The Economic Development Authority is preliminarily set to receive a $20,000 allocation, though that number may change. City employee wages and benefits are sitting at a three percent increase from 2013. This brings an estimated increase of $15,225 to city property taxes, or roughly a 2.5 percent increase.

Young also mentioned that under the Affordable Care Act, the city expects to see its health insurance premiums increase by 25 percent over two years. The 2014 preliminary budget reflects a 13 percent increase or an increase of $16,500 to property taxes.

In all, the total proposed levy for 2014 is roughly $1.2 million, just under last year's total. The council approved the preliminary levy and set the Truth in Taxation meeting for Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.

Councilmember Paul Novotny noted there was still plenty of stuff left to talk about, but overall this was "the easiest year" due to the levy limits being set at zero.

Engineering change

City engineer David Morrill announced a merger of engineering firm McGhie & Betts, Inc., with WSB & Associates, Inc., from Minneapolis. Morrill explained the change had been considered over the past nine months. Reasons for the change centered on client services, of which WSB has a wider variety to offer.

He expressed his gratitude for the 25 years serving Chatfield with McGhie & Betts and said he wanted to continue in that capacity through WSB.

He noted that the merge came at a critical time when the city is figuring out how to respond to the Destination Medical Center.

WSB Vice President Jay Kennedy was present at the meeting to greet the council and give background information and details on the firm. He acknowledged Chatfield's 50-year relationship with McGhie & Betts.

The city public works committee is currently evaluating engineering firms to see if a switch should occur.

EZ Fabricating subsidy

Chris Giesen, Economic Development Authority coordinator, told the council there would be a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. in city hall to address the proposed business subsidy for EZ Fabricating, Inc.

Giesen explained the EDA had been working with the business during the last year for possible expansion. He explained the process is there, but would continue to evolve. The business is looking for an additional 19,000 square feet for manufacturing and office space purposes. The expansion would lead to the creation of an estimated 15 to 20 jobs and be located on land purchased from Tuohy Furniture Corporation.

A public hearing will be held the same evening to address the proposed modification of the tax increment district, which would exclude the parcel EZ Fabricating would purchase within a new tax increment district.

Committee reports

From the public works committee, Novotny updated the council that four of the city's top 10 sewer fixes had been completed. He mentioned costs would be substantially less, and possibly even $40,000 less, than what was expected.

As part of the city's consideration of engineering firms, the committee had also received presentations from several other firms.

A conditional use permit request by resident Mary Peterson was approved for her to use a basement located on Main Street South as an apartment.

The city approved Melissa Wood to fill a citizen-position on the Historic Preservation Commission until January of 2014.

Mayor Russell Smith announced Sept. 17 to 23 as Constitution Week, which celebrates the 226th anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Smith read the Preamble of the Constitution at the meeting and stated, "We wouldn't be as far as we are now if we didn't have the Constitution."