WHITE BEAR TOWNSHIP — Town Board supervisors and staff managed to whittle down the preliminary tax levy to $4.15 million, about $150,000 less than what residents approved last March.
Still, the 2020 tax levy approved at the last meeting in September is about 9% higher than last year.
Finance Director Tom Kelly reminded the board that the levy consists of three parts: a general property tax levy of $3,781,650; fiscal disparity of $303,880; plus a debt service levy of $65,400. The debt levy is new and a result of approval of a bond sale to finance road projects.
“We haven't had a debt levy for the last three or four years,” Kelly noted. If the township wasn't bonding, the proposed levy would be about 7.5% higher than in 2019.
“Just so residents understand, part of the reason for this jump is road improvements,” pointed out Town Chair Ed Prudhon. “We will see that every year for awhile.”
Certification to the county is required by Sept. 30. After that date, the township can lower the levy prior to final certification in December but cannot increase the amount. The county uses the preliminary levy on Truth-In-Taxation notices mailed mid-November.
In other business at its Sept. 16 meeting, the Town Board:
• Approved sale of general obligation bonds to fund 2019 road construction. A spokesman for Baker Tilly, formerly Springsted, said 24 underwriters were interested in buying the township bonds. “It's a good time to be in the markets,” said the bond attorney. The township borrowed $1,210,000 at an interest rate of 2.02% for road improvements. “We have a project,” declared Clerk/Treasurer Pat Christopherson.
• Set assessment hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21. The total amount to be assessed is $597,000. Streets include Hobe Lane, West Hobe Court, North Hobe Court, Parkview Drive, Fenway Court, Weston Woods Way, Moon Lake Court, Gilfillan Court and a portion of White Bear Parkway.
• Tabled a joint powers agreement with North Oaks regarding inflow monitoring into the township sewer system. Who pays what costs to meter the discharge, specifically maintenance, remains unclear.
• Tabled project involving SMC Corp., which is asking approval to build a 121,000-square-foot building at 5800 Centerville Road. Expansion plans will also require wetland mitigation. Township Planner Tom Riedesel said it's the first time in 10 years a wetland permit has been requested. Of 160,000 square feet covered by wetland, 63,200 would be filled.
• Approved increase in 2020 utility rates.
Kelly informed the board that installation of new water meters showed an 8% reduction in water usage.
Only the top two tiers, 32,000 gallons and up, will see a water rate increase.
Prudhon noted that the township is trying to conserve water. “We are only raising rates for excessive users to curb our obligations. The cost of water is getting expensive.”
Sewer rates increased $1 for residential and $2.50 for commercial users.
• Agreed to purchase a ballfield groomer for $27,800. The groomer will handle fields in three locations. The township formerly paid the school district to do the grooming. The equipment does much more than drag the field, including aeration and seeding.
Also approved was purchase of a 2020 pickup truck for $31,000 from Apple Autos. Funding will come from the capital equipment fund.