Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Moose Lake sets preliminary tax levy


September 19, 2019

The Moose Lake City Council set the preliminary levy at a 2 percent increase at the meeting of the council on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

City Administrator Tim Peterson explained that he recommended that the levy be 0 percent but did point out that the final levy will be set in December. He added that the preliminary levy could be set higher and then set at the lower amount in December, if no other expenses came up.

The Truth in Taxation hearing, where city property taxpayers can come to speak with the council about the taxes, was set for Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. at the council chambers.

Peterson also spoke about the special assessment policy. He had assembled information about a new plan for the city to raise revenue to pay for assessments for utility projects.

He presented a handout that listed the amount that the electrical rates could be increased and the resulting revenue.

“For residential users, the increase would be 1 to 1.5 percent or $11 annually,” he said. “Larger amounts would come from users, such as Mercy Hospital, the old school, MSOP, DOC, and churches.”

The chart showed that, if the rate was increased by .0055, it would result in $32,025.79 in additional revenue. If the rate was raised by .006, it would result in $48,705.89 in increased revenue. If the rate were raised by .0065, it would result in $65,385.99 in increased revenue.

“In my mind, this is a better option than increasing property taxes to pay assessments,” said Peterson. “It is like the gas franchise fee. We probably would raise the rates by .0055, not by .006.”

The rate increases will be brought back for discussion at the Oct. 9 meeting of the city council.

There was also discussion about a lodging tax.

Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Tia Grutkoski introduced the new chamber executive director, Allison Jones, to the council and then discussed the proposed lodging tax.

“This is on the chamber’s strategic plan,” Grutkoski told the council. “We would like to revisit the proposal now. There has been a changeover in both motels and we also need to educate ourselves. This is not a tax assessed on community members. Hundreds of thousands of communities collect lodging taxes. These taxes are limited to promoting tourism on a national, state and local scale.”

Grutkoski also explained that the tax, such as 3 percent, would be collected when a guest checks into a motel or other lodging facility. Campgrounds in the city are included except where campers stay more than 30 days.

“The city collects the tax and retains a small amount for administration,” Grutkoski added.

Peterson presented the council with a sample lodging tax ordinance from the City of Proctor and spoke about items in that ordinance that would not be needed in Moose Lake. He said that the city and the chamber could work on the ordinance for possible passage in November.

There was discussion about the Tobacco 21 proposed ordinance.

The ordinance has been proposed for the cities of Moose Lake and Cloquet, Carlton County and the Fond du Lac Reservation. It would raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The ordinance would make it more difficult for students that are 18 to buy tobacco products for their friends at school.

“A few retailers are already imposing this,” said Peterson. “If we move forward with this, we will send a letter to all tobacco retailers to explain it. No tobacco retailer will be allowed to sell flavored tobacco. Price reductions or coupons for the purchase of tobacco will not be allowed. The police officers will police it.”

The ordinance will be brought back to the council in future meetings for further discussion.

In other business, the council approved a contract with the county attorney’s office for prosecution services in the amount of $16,000, approved a quote from Summit in the amount of $5,050 for repairs to the restrooms at the Municipal Liquor Store, approved the low quote from Gobel Excavating for repairs of a hydrant, a manhole, and a catch basin in the total amount of $16,475, approved the quote for the rental of an excavator from Ziegler for $4,000, approved a quote from G2 Implement in the amount of $3,501.45 for the purchase of an attachment for the skidsteer, approved an increase in the salary of Sergeant Mike McNulty while he is acting police chief, and approved the purchase of a parcel of land from the owners of the old school for the location of a city wellhouse.

The next meeting of the council was set for Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. in the council chambers.


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