Mayor questions renovation projectRed Wing Mayor John Howe lobbied City Council Monday to reconsider its recent decision to authorize a $309,000 renovation project at City Hall.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing Mayor John Howe lobbied City Council Monday to reconsider its recent decision to authorize a $309,000 renovation project at City Hall.
During the city's truth in taxation meeting -- an annual meeting held to inform residents about the upcoming year's budget and property tax levy -- Howe proposed council rework the city's proposed 2011 budget.
He suggested nixing a pair of proposed fees and a two percent increase to Red Wing's property tax levy. Howe said the city could make up for the lost revenue by delaying the renovation project and tapping more of the city's reserve funds.
"It's about perception," Howe said, arguing that completing the renovation project now looks bad to residents and businesses because they are struggling financially. Howe qualified that he is not against the project but against the timing.
Council member Dean Hove said there is ample merit to completing the project now.
"We've waited how many years already?" Hove said, noting the project is the third in a series of renovation projects at City Hall that began in 2005. Council approved the third renovation at its Nov. 23 meeting. A major portion of the renovation project involves overhauling the building's heating, cooling and ventilation system.
Hove said the project will boost the local economy because it's employing a local contractor.
Meanwhile, delaying the renovation would prove troublesome, Public Works Director Rick Moskwa said, because crews have already begun their work, including the partial demolition of an exterior wall.
The debate will likely continue during Monday's council meeting when council members will look to pass the 2011 budget.
Howe has hinted he intends to veto the proposed levy increase and new fees.
If the city were to drop the proposed fees and the levy hike, it would likely tap an additional $150,000 from its reserve fund -- often called fund balance -- to balance next year's budget.
Red Wing Finance Director Marshall Hallock said that would be a "marginal" amount of the city's total fund balance.
The city currently intends to use $445,000 in its 2011 budget in order to ease budget cuts.