Council approves 2021 budget, 6% tax increase

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

September is preliminary tax levy time at cities around the state. Cities must approve and submit to the county a preliminary budget and tax levy for the following year, in September. The final tax levy is submitted in December and between those dates proposed levies can be reduced, but not increased.

City Manager Bob Elston reviewed the preliminary 2021 budget at the Tuesday, Sept. 8 meeting of the Sleepy Eye City Council. Elston went through the budget, line by line, and came to a final increase of $84,260, or a 6% increase in tax asking, for next year.

Elston said actual spending increases total $32,740, with expected revenue decreases of $51,520 accounting for the remainder of the total levy increase. Elston said revenues are reduced due to lower interest income, event center income down, and a possible decrease in expected LGA.

The preliminary 2021 budget and tax levy was approved by the council. The numbers were no surprise to the council members as the budget was arrived at after four council budget work meetings in August. Elston worked with department heads on budgets prior to those meetings.

In other business:

•Mayor Pelzel’s appointment of Mindy Hardin to the Library Board was approved.

•New fire department members, Alex Bruggeman and Keaton Borth, were approved at the recommendation of Fire Chief Ron Zinniel. Zinniel said the opening were created by the recent retirements of Ben Hoffmann and Ron Moldaschel.

•Approved a petition for paving the alley of the 100 block between Maple and Walnut Streets SW.

•Resident Goeffrey Ferk presented information on honey bees, which he said are not aggressive and whose primary function is pollination. Ferk would like to keep honey bees within city limits, which is not allowed by the current ordinance. The council told Ferk they would talk with residents and have City Attorney Alissa Groen research how best to address the issue and come back with an answer at a later meeting.

•Approved Sleepy Eye Brewing Company’s request to close the east/west alley behind their building for an Octoberfest celebration on Saturday, Sept. 26.

•Approved a lot split request from Dennis and Sharon Fromm, creating five lots from the current three, in Sleepy Hollow Fifth Addition; and approved the ordinance selling the real estate to the Fromms. Also approved the ordinance selling real estate in Sleepy Hollow Fifth Addition to Thomas and Diane Stoks. (Sleepy Hollow Fifth Addition is the new development area created west and south of the 12th Avenue/St. Mary’s Street project.)

•Approved forgiveness of $6,726.80 of the $12,726.80 in special assessments against forfeited property at 416 Main Street West. The 25 foot lot is located between Freedom station and Pat and Tom Wurtzburger’s shop. The Wurtzburgers expect to purchase the lot at auction and build an addition to their shop.

•Engineer Dave Palm updated the council on progress of the construction projects. He said the railroad has completed much work on the 12th Avenue crossing — the switch is moved, concrete planking has been laid over the tracks, the signals arms are expected to be in place and operational by the end of the week. Palm said Mathiowetz Construction will then gravel the roadway (new 12th Avenue section) and begin using it for access to the rest of the construction area.

Palm said the new construction sections of 12th Avenue, Elm Street, and St. Mary’s Street could be opened for general use, as gravel roads, this fall. Concrete and bituminous work will be completed next summer.

Palm said the 2020 Street and Utility project is going well, with a lot of bituminous surface completed and work on new grass in the boulevards to follow soon.

Palm said he hasn’t heard any updates from Brown County on their planned street work on First Avenue North, St. Mary’s Street and continuing north along 3rd Avenue. Palm said the work is planned for next year, followed a few years later by similar work on First Avenue South.