Elko New Market OKs preliminary levy

Patrick Fisher

Staff Writer

The Elko New Market City Council unanimously approved a preliminary 2009 tax levy collectible in 2010 of nearly $1.7 million at its Thursday, Sept. 10, meeting. The budget is a $10,000 reduction from what had previously been presented to the council.

City Administrator Tom Terry presented the budget explaining the preliminary levy is estimated to have a flat tax impact on the average single family residential property. He noted some homes that saw a change in value might see a change in property taxes.

The original draft levy proposed was slightly higher than $1.7 million and represented an increase of $31,656, or 1.9 percent from the 2009 levy. Terry also said the city has two union contracts in negotiations, which may affect the budget.

Mayor Jason Ponsonby proposed reducing the levy by $10,000.

Council member Bob Hanna said he would like it if residents could say their taxes went down.

Terry said the council could do that, but it created a balancing act. He noted if they lower taxes the city may have to raise them later. Things were also likely to become tighter concerning Local Government Aid (LGA). The state government made cuts in LGA in 2009 and it is likely it will do so again in 2010.

Mayor Ponsonby said the council wanted to ensure taxes didn't go up.

Hanna asked if the council would jeopardize an increase in taxes if it went with a two percent cut for every department.

Ponsonby said the council wouldn't for 2010, but 2011 and on they might. The council wanted to keep taxes flat.

Council member Denise Schneider said she would rather they took baby steps in adjusting the levy.

Council member Dennis Melgaard said he was for flat taxes, but not for lowering them. The effect is one that could come back and bite them.

Cities must set a preliminary property tax levy in September. A final levy is set in December and cannot exceed the amount set for the preliminary levy.

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