MARSHALL, MN (KMHL) — The Marshall City Council met Tuesday evening. Among several orders of business, the Marshall City Council voted 5-2 in favor of adopting the 2023 operating levy at approximately $8.18 million, an increase of 8.1% from the previous year’s levy.
The council discussed the 2023 operating levy multiple times throughout the year. The first proposed operating levy saw an increase of 13.2% in an August work session. Then a preliminary levy saw that percentage drop to a 9.04% increase, before the council ultimately approved the 8.1% increase Tuesday.
Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson said they compared their situation with other towns in similar situations. Hanson said, “When we did comparisons, we’re in the middle in terms of tax rate, we’re in the middle of comparable levies. We have begun to look at some other cities that have adopted their levies and the stories are the same in terms of impacts”
Hanson also noted that the 2023 Operating Levy was higher than most wanted, however it will not use reserve funds, like previous years. She says avoiding reserve funds accounts for about 2% of the 8.1% increase. Hanson stated the proposed levy was much more stable than previous years and will help the city in 2024 and 2025.
Council member Russ Labat wasn’t on-board with the proposed operating levy, believing the city council could do a better job of relaying their message to the city staff. “When I’m saying that we need to give better direction, we need to give better direction to our staff saying this is going to be tough year, we need you to hold the line. If you don’t think you need it, or whatever the case may be, we got to try to hold the line… It’s not an open check book, I wish it was. Whether that direction is 20%, 10%, or 5%, I think it’s a number that the city council could give direction to the city administrator and city staff moving forward. ” Labat said.
Council member Craig Schafer said he understands where Labat is coming from, but he’s doing an injustice to the work the committees do. “I think we give good direction to the city, look at our Capital Improvement Plan, we pick our priorities as a council, our engineering and public works department puts a really good project together.”
Schafer wasn’t in full support of the operating levy either. “Do I like an 8.1? No, I prefer a 3, but today doesn’t let us do that so my question back is: What would we cut?”
After about 15 minutes of discussion, council members voted 5-2 in favor of adopting the levy increase, with council members Labat and Lozinski voting against the levy. The council then approved the 2023 budget on a 4-3 vote, with council members Labat, Lozinski and Steven Meister casting the votes against.