BAXTER — A preliminary 2013 property tax levy was set at $5,450,200 at Baxter City Council Tuesday.
Once set, the preliminary tax levy may go down but it cannot increase. The city has until December to approve its final levy. The public information meeting where the council will review the 2013 budget and tax levy with residents is planned at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 3 at Baxter City Hall.
In other business, the city:
Approved the Widseth Smith Nolting proposal for engineering services for the Excelsior Road stormwater study, not to exceed $2,350. Money for the project is coming from the city’s stormwater enterprise fund. Approved funding for 2013 park projects, including putting in benches, picnic tables and improvements at Riverview Park, handicap trail connections at Loren Thompson Park, a handicap ramp at Whipple Beach Park, a trail connection at the intersection of Grand Oaks and Firewood drives, a trail connection at the Paul Bunyan Trail at the intersection of Charles Street and Baxter Drive.
Approved 2013 delayed payments on taxes for special assessments for senior citizens or disabled people after getting one application. The approval delays the payment with a 4.0 percent annual interest. Applicants must apply and be eligible for the deferment each year by Aug. 31 of the preceding year. There is a $50 application fee.
Heard from Mike Murphy, Greenwood Street resident, who said he was concerned with early morning noise from back-up truck alarms, such as garbage haulers. Murphy said the noise sometimes at 4 a.m. was disrupting sleep and he suggested no trucks with the alarms should be used within a mile of a residential area between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Murphy said a city ordinance with a financial penalty for disturbing the peace would help. He said the alarms could be disabled and added he permanently disabled one on his truck with a screw driver. No action was taken.
Directed city staff to take care of a tall grass nuisance in a pending foreclosure at 7094 Fox Road.
Approved paying $147,113 for a partial payment to Chicago Bridge & Iron for work on the new water tower.
Met in closed session for negotiations on buying road right-of-way for an Isle Drive extension.
Approved a motion by council member Jim Klein to have staff look into potential leasing of city vehicles as an alternative to buying. Council member Todd Holman opposed.
Heard from Klein, liaison to the parks commission, who requested an ability to brainstorm with Minnesota Department (MnDOT) of Transportation officials about a stated problem by bicyclists trying to cross Highways 371 and 210 to get to businesses east of Highway 371. Mayor Darrel Olson questioned if Klein was talking about an overpass. Klein said he doubted MnDOT would agree to that but there may be something to do other than say a prayer and cross. Holman said it’s a complex issue and bike crossings are a high priority for the city, but he noted the topic wasn’t on the council agenda Tuesday so they weren't prepared to fully discuss it. Holman said it might be something better addressed with comprehensive planning as the city hasn’t looked at designating bike routes, which would give the city something to bring to the state or county for that discussion. Klein said there may be a solution that doesn’t cost an arm or a leg so he requested an ability to talk to MnDOT. Olson noted the work MnDOT did for improved intersection crossings as the highway was reconstructed last year and questioned if the right place for a crossing discussion was with the parks commission and not with MnDOT and the city. Holman said the direct communication is typically directed by the full council and takes place between staff.
“So nothing will get done,” Klein said. Klein’s motion died for lack of a second.