A resolution to exceed the county’s Revenue Neutral Rate was approved unanimously at the July 19 Gardner City Council meeting.
While the city will hold the mill levy the same as last year, the cost of the mill will increase due to increased property valuation.
Gardner intends to exceed the RNR of 19.278 mills with a proposed mill rate to be determined by the governing body. Staff recommends the current mill rate of 20.665.
The motion was made by Todd Winters, president, and seconded by Randy Gregorcyk, member.
During the discussion Matthew Wolff, finance director, clarified each homeowners would see an increase of about $3.26 for city taxes (only)based on house valuation.
Gregorcyk said they are giving money to redevelopment, but not citizens. Shute said they didn’t give Freddy’s any money; they are forgoing revenue increases.
Wolff noted if they go down to the RNR, there is no exception for abatements. They would be redirecting existing revenues to developments and away from the general fund. If they can’t capture new revenue sources from new development, they need commercial.
Gregorcyk said the idea behind commercial development is to offset the burden on homeowners, but they are increasing the mill to the homeowner by $3.26 per month.
Shute said that’s why they have been in favor of bringing commercial to the city. Commercial lowers the tax burden on everyone, especially residents. There is a dollar amount required for city operations, and there is a staff element. Cutting would impact some budget requests. They spent down reserves in recent years. A year ago, there was concern about budget numbers if revenues fell short.
There was discussion regarding fund balances in future years. Wolfe said bond agencies prefer balances to be around 30 percent; and Pruetting said a cut could drop the target fund balance below 20 percent in outlying years.
Kaci Deaton, member, said they may consider pay increases to keep good employees, as discussed for lifeguards. If they need to make changes to be adequately staffed, she wants to ensure there’s enough.
Shute said the fund balance is an important contingency for unanticipated expenses. He said the resolution informs the public.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said council needs to include the mill they are considering. He confirmed there is consensus that the current flat levy would be the maximum.
Shute confirmed.
Wolff said it’s 20.665.