BUDGET PAINS DIVIDE COUNCIL TAXES INCREASED, JOBS CUT AT MEETING
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 percent.
 
    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 this budget."
 
    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 sscott@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5526.

 
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