Each year in September, local units of government are required to establish a preliminary levy for the upcoming year and to have that approval by the end of September.

The Redwood Falls city council got a look at that proposal during its Sept. 17 meeting and approved the preliminary levy presented by Missi Meyer, city director of finance and administrative services.

According to Meyer, the proposal includes a 4.99 percent increase over the 2019 levy, which equates to a $135,000 rise over the amount collected this year.

A major portion of the increase is in salary, as the city approved a new three-year contract (2019-21) with its employees that includes a 3 percent increase.

The total proposed tax levy for 2020 is $2,829,369, which includes $827,641 in general tax levy dollars, as well as $386,129 for the library and $53,017 for the port authority. It also includes $47,680 in debt service on community center bonds, $30,466 for Garnette Gardens tax abatements, $31,547 for the Redwood Valley fourth addition tax abatement, $73,894 for PERA and $1,378,995 for police wages and benefits. That includes the employment of a new investigator position for the police department. 

Work will continue on the levy and budget for 2020, with the final presentation scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. That is when the city council will officially certify the levy for next year. Changes may be made, but they can only result in a reduction of the levy. The percentage can’t increase.

In other action during its meeting, the city council:

• Awarded the bid for the work to repair the swayback bridge in Ramsey Park to Environmental Associates, Inc. of Willmar at a cost of $87,370. According to Keith Muetzel, the city has experience with this company, as it did work to repair the stone on the Y-intersection.

• Accepted a bid of $4,500 from Mark Nemitz for the 1990 International dump truck the city had for sale.

• Adopted an ordinance grating an exclusive residential solid waste hauling franchise to West Central Sanitation for five years with a 2.5 percent increase during each of the five years.

• Approved the proposed 2020 fee schedule.

• Discussed a proposed ordinance related to a change in animal licensing and regulations for the city. According to Amy Busse, city attorney, the city’s dog licensing ordinance was established to provide public safety, as it helps to ensure all dogs residing in the city have proper vaccinations. However, the work each year takes a lot of staff time. The proposal would allow for a conditional lifetime license that would remain valid so long as the owner keeps up with the animal’s vaccinations.