City council approves publication of budget with 0.724 mill levy increase
Baldwin City will be increasing its mill levy for 2012, but it will by less than 1mill.
The a proposed 2012 budget the Baldwin City Council unanimously approved Monday for publication would increase the mill levy 2.23 percent from 32.416 to 33.140 mills. The majority of the 0.724 mill increase in the budget would support the general fund.
There will be a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at the American Legion Hall on the 2012 budget. The published budget establishes maximum spending levels, which the council can reduce before voting to adopt the budget but can’t increase without publication of increased amounts.
“What you approve tonight is a maximum budget,” Mayor Ken Wagner said. “You can’t increase it after it’s published, but you can bring it down at the public hearing.”
One mill is equal to $1 in tax for every $1,000 in a property’s assessed valuation. One mill of the city’s taxes raises about $31,000. The increase will cost taxpayers who own a $150,00 home an additional $12.49 next year to fund the city’s $16,755,077 budget.
Wagner, Interim City Administrator Pam Irey and the city staff worked to keep the city’s budget tight again this year after the 2011 budget spiked the mill levy 1.878 mills. At Monday’s meeting, Wagner said he knew it would be tough, but they wanted to keep the mill levy increase at 3 percent or lower.
“Our budget was extremely tight in 2011,” he said. “In past year, at the end of year, we’ve spent a lot of money that is left in the funds. This is the year that we hold back and improve our cash position for the following year.”
The proposed budget would increase the city’s general fund mill levy from 21.941 mills to 25.446 mills. However, the general bond and interest mill levy would decease from 6.308 to 3.473 mills. Meanwhile, the library mill levy will have a slight increase from 3.998 to 4.107 mills and the cemetery fund will drop from 0.169 to 0.114 mills.
“There aren’t a lot of changes in this budget from last year’s (2011) budget, but there are some good strategic changes in there,” Wagner said. “Some of those are things we should have been doing for a while. Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t some sacrifices made, because there were plenty made by our city staff.”
To help with some of the sacrifices, included in the 2012 general budget is a pool fund of 2 percent for city employee salary increases. Raises will be based on merit and the money for those will be taken from this fund, Wagner said. Employee salaries were frozen a year ago.
“We are at-risk if we don’t change that,” Wagner said. “I don’t want to see us get to the point where we lose good employees. That’s not to say that 2 percent is a lot, but we need something.”
Another addition to the budget is in the general capital improvement fund. It would increase nearly $2 million. Most of that will go toward the North Sixth Street Project, which is set to begin in 2012.
The final budget will be approved after the public hearing.