The Pine River City Council approved a $41,127 levy increase for 2014 at its Dec. 10 regular meeting.
The city levy increased after three years without an increase. During that time the city delayed improvements and developments throughout the city. City Clerk Wanda Mongan said the budget did not increase because of these improvements, though there are improvements expected in the future.
“Unfortunately, the 2008s and 2009s and 2010s, where everybody was hurting, we were hurting, too,” said Pine River Mayor Jim Sabas.
The 2011, 2012 and 2013 levy amounts were $373,871, whereas the 2014 levy amount totals $414,998.
There are $24,876 in cuts to the police budget for 2014. Pine River Police Chief Paul Sand responded to these cuts by reminding the council of the high cost of prosecuting cases.
“The city has to prosecute,” Sand said.
City Attorney Ted Lundrigan agreed about the cost of prosecution.
“All you need to destroy your budget is to have to prosecute another dog kennel case ...” Lundrigan said. “The same thing could happen in another context.”
There was a $9,541 decrease in the city bus budget because of the merger with Crow Wing Transit, a $54,500 increase in the airport projects budget, and a $25,000 increase in the city dam budget.
In other business Dec. 10, the council:
• Learned that multiple city residents are in violation of city ordinances forbidding farm animals within the city, when one resident asked the council for permission to keep her pet duck within city limits. City clerk Wanda Mongan said there are chickens being raised on another property, and there are rumors of a “pig on Parker." The council decided to uphold the ordinance against farm animals in city limits.
• Learned that the Artisan’s Corner building has been brought up to code through the removal of the canopy that overhung the street and was in disrepair.
• Agreed to meet with Gary Gardiner to discuss airspace zoning for the construction of a snow removal building and otherwise modifying a section of the municipal airport. The meeting will be scheduled according to the availability of city engineer Brian Drown.
• Agreed to publish notice of a meeting to be held to ratify a zoning ordinance.
• Decided to continue to attempt to contact the owner of an Oxford Oaks property with the purpose of acquiring the land for extension of sewer services. The owner was recently served a notice on the subject. The city could have the option of acquiring the land through condemnation and use of eminent domain.
• Signed a one-year library lease with the Pine River Library Building Foundation, committing to a $1,430 monthly lease cost. The lease also designates half of the parking lot near the library as exclusive library parking and requires the city and the library share the cost of maintaining the lot by an equal share. The city had the option of signing a lease for a two- or three-year term, but decided to sign the lease for one year to see what types of additional expenses the city will accrue over the span of a year. The lease begins Jan. 1, 2014, and ends Dec. 31, 2014.
• Learned that the Pine River Police Department has received a Large Incentive Grant of two vehicle light bars from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for the effectiveness of its Toward Zero Deaths program (formerly known as Safe and Sober).