BUDGET PAINS DIVIDE COUNCIL TAXES INCREASED, JOBS CUT AT
Author: STEVE SCOTT Pioneer Press
Date: December 29, 2004
Three days before an end-of-year deadline, Roseville set a
tax levy increase of 9 percent and adopted a city budget for 2005 that
eliminates three staff positions.
Many homeowners can expect a 15 percent
to 20 percent increase in their property taxes, city staff predicted, with
residential property values typically rising between 10 percent and 15
Every council member at Monday's special
meeting expressed disappointment with the budget and the $10.6 million levy,
but members differed on how to solve the dilemma.
"I'm not pleased with this at
all," Mayor Craig Klausing said. "We did not look at hard cuts. I
think 9 percent is simply too much. ... Whenever we come up to the hard
choices, we fold."
Foremost among Roseville's budget
problems was accounting for a $500,000 reduction in state aid.
"We're dealing with a major tax
shift in this state," Council Member Dean Maschka said. "That
$500,000 is half of that 9 percent. We've corrected that structural problem in
The $32.6 million budget calls for
eliminating a full-time custodian, a full-time maintenance position and the
equivalent of one full-time civilian position in the police department.
"We should be reducing staff at the
assistant manager level, cutting from the top down, not the bottom up,"
Council Member Greg Schroeder said. "We should look where we can
capitalize on a possible $80,000 savings rather than a $50,000 savings."
By 3-2 approval of a motion by Council
Member Tom Kough, the council also reduced cost-of-living pay increases for
city staff to 2 percent, down from the 3 percent in the preliminary budget.
Although that might cut $32,000 from the budget, disagreements involving
employment contracts for union employees are subject to possible arbitration.
That could erase some of those savings if an arbitrator were to grant the
higher cost-of-living raises.
Council Member Amy Ihlan unsuccessfully
sought passage of a number of measures she said would have given the council
more control on consultant spending and professional services. She said she
would raise the issues again early next year.
The council also approved a special levy
for the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority of $158,000, which will
cost the average homeowner about $9 a year.
Monday's special meeting was called after
the council failed to take up the budget and levy approval at an acerbic
six-hour meeting a week earlier.
Ihlan began Monday's meeting by objecting
to personal remarks made by fellow council members last week that she felt
"went beyond the bounds of civil council debate."
Maschka apologized Monday for
"inappropriate" comments made in the late hours of last week's
meeting, when he had said, "I read a statement today that you can argue
with a woman two ways and both of them are wrong, and at this hour of the
night I'm not going to get into that argument."
Schroeder declined to apologize and
restated his frustration Monday about discussions that go "on and on and
on" at council meetings.
Just after last week's meeting adjourned
at nearly midnight, Schroeder had said, "Just zip it, Amy. I'm tired of
listening to you all night."
Steve Scott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org