Results of budget process a mixed bagRed Wing City Council The city of Red Wing's 2010 budget process yielded a mixed bag of good news, bad news.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
The city of Red Wing's 2010 budget process yielded a mixed bag of good news, bad news.
City Council was able to pass a flat levy for 2010 — $12.66 million — but didn't feel it could commit the dollars necessary to bring back a popular youth program that was cut last year.
Council passed a balanced budget, but city officials say it will likely need adjusting next year, as they're expecting to lose some or all of the state aid Red Wing is scheduled to receive.
And while the decertification of a tax-increment financing district earlier this year will help lower property tax burdens, some city fees were increased.
"This has been a long year," Council member Dean Hove said.
Summer rec voted down
A measure to bring back Red Wing's summer recreation program was turned down by the council in a 6-1 vote.
Council member Ralph Rauterkus, who suggested the measure, was the lone supporter.
The summer program, which was run through the YMCA, provided organized recreational activities for kids.
YMCA Director Mike Melstad said there was a large backlash when the program was cut last year.
"Frankly, it got a furious reaction," said Melstad, who added that he received over 100 phone complaints.
Rauterkus suggested taking $24,000 from a $700,000 contingency fund for to pay for the program next year.
While members across the board said they valued the program, most argued the financial climate is too cloudy to pay for the nonessential service.
"Reality is here, people." Hove said. "We can't afford everything any more."
Annually the city sets up a contingency fund to serve as a buffer for unexpected costs. Finance Director Marshall Hallock said the city is funding that contingency at higher levels in 2010 in anticipation of losing state aid dollars.
"We have not heard the last from the state yet," Council member Carol Duff said, articulating why she's hesitant to take money out of the contingency fund.
All hope for the popular program is not lost, however.
A group is working to raise money for summer rec and council members said they might be receptive to making a match sometime next year.
Funding must be determined by late April or early May in order to get the program up and running by summer, Melstad said.
A couple of city fees will increase next year, including water and sewer charges along with some refuse and recycling fees.
The monthly utility bill for the average family of four in Red Wing will go up $2.40 a month. Bills will go up $2.04 for an average family of two and 1.86 for the average single resident.