Orono keeps 2013 preliminary levy flat
The Orono City Council kept the city’s 2013 preliminary property tax levy at the same amount as the 2012 levy.
The council approved a levy in the amount of $4,701,760. That is the same amount that the city levied from taxpayers in 2012 and in 2011. The approval of the policing contract with Mound did not affect the levy.
The preliminary levy is important because it represents the maximum amount the city can raise from taxpayers. When the council approves the final levy in December, the amount can remain the same or decrease from the preliminary levy.
The general fund budget calls for expenditures in the amount of $5,785,630, which is the same as the 2012 expenditures budget. In a memo to the council, Finance Director Ron Olson noted that the most significant expenditure impact is for personal services in the amount of $51,159. He noted that amount includes a 1 percent wage increase for employees and an additional $50 per month for employees that choose the family health coverage.
Savings were found in elections as 2013 will not be an election year. The council also decided to reduce its contributions to the Gillespie Center by $9,500. This year, the city gave $19,000 to the center.
Olson noted that the taxable market value has again decreased in Orono. He said that it is expected to decrease by 7.39 percent and that the tax capacity is expected to decrease by 7.92 percent.
Councilor Doug Franchot said he was baffled as to why the council would commit to a flat levy so early. He said that it could tie the council’s hands if something unexpected came up between now and December when the council approves the final 2013 levy. He said he was not opposed to keeping the levy flat, but that he would rather commit to that number in December assuming nothing changes between now and then.
Councilor Cynthia Bremer said that she was convinced that the city could still provide great services to residents while keeping the levy flat.
Mayor Lili McMillan said 2013 would be the city’s third year of the tax base decreasing by at least 7 percent.
“Hopefully this is our last year,” she said.