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Silver Bay levy increase finalized

The Silver Bay City Council has approved a 7.4 percent levy increase.

During a special meeting the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 27, the council approved a total levy of $96,145 for 2018 — the preliminary level set by the council at a meeting in September. The vote was tabled during the Dec. 18 council meeting after a discrepancy in net tax capacity numbers revealed a greater tax burden on local taxpayers than originally believed.

The net tax capacity numbers provided by the Lake County Assessor's Office to Silver Bay officials over the summer indicated a net tax capacity increase of 1.7 percent, meaning Silver Bay could increase its levy by 1.7 percent with no impact to taxpayers. However, the certified numbers provided by the county show a 4.8 percent decrease in Silver Bay's net tax capacity.

The 7.4 percent increase will cost $126.58 on a homestead valued at $100,000 — a nearly 11 percent increase over the 2017 burden. It remains unclear why the numbers changed between the initial figures and those provided by the county for the final calculations.

While tax notices sent to Silver Bay residents reflected the numbers provided by the county, the numbers provided to the council during its truth in taxation meeting Dec. 4 were based on the original figure and were not an accurate representation of the 7.4 percent increase.

During Wednesday's meeting, Councillors Richard DeRosier, Shane Hoff and Dustin Goutermont said they have received questions from community members confused about the discrepancy, but they have not received any complaints about the city's planned spending.

The discrepancy caused a difference of about $65,000 in the numbers used to calculate the 2018 budget.

The budget included a levy-funded increase of $51,145 in the general fund to pay for wage increases for full- and part-time employees, as well as a $50 per month per employee increase in health insurance premiums.

The levy also included a $25,000 increase in the city's street repair fund and a $20,000 increase in the capital improvement fund for future repairs to streets and city buildings.

When discussions began in May, the original budget included a nearly $200,000 increase in the capitol improvement fund and a $50,000 increase in the street repair fund.

If adopted as originally proposed, the levy increase would have been more than 28 percent over 2017 levels.

"Your tax capacity is never going to grow if your infrastructure and your capital improvements are lacking," DeRosier said. "There's not a bunch of frivolous fat in here ... what we trimmed back down to is really stuff that we feel we need and we have good reasons behind it."

The council unanimously voted for the 7.4 percent increase, saying that it was in the best interest of the city's financial health and they have worked to minimize its spending since budget workshop meetings began in August.

Mayor Scott Johnson and Councilor Carlene Perfetto were unable to attend the 8:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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