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Ottertail finalizes levy at 3.5 percent

With a 3 to 2 vote, the Ottertail City Council narrowly passed a motion to set the city's final levy for 2010 at 3.5 percent.

Voting in favor of the 3.5 percent were council members Myron Lueders, Don Patrick, and Ottertail Mayor Raymond "Ole" Mounts. Council members Terry Wagenman and Heather Pollard voted in opposition to the increase, each stating their concern with the levy hike.

In presenting the estimated 2010 budget report to the council, former Ottertail city clerk/treasurer Linda Bjelland offered her suggestions to the council.

"I feel that you could squeak by at the 3.5 percent, possibly even at 3 percent," Bjelland concluded after reviewing the budget with the council at their Dec. 3 meeting.

Bjelland continued, "myself, I would go to 3.5. It's an extra $1,500, that's what it is."

This year's decision to increase the levy collectible in 2010 comes on the heels of last year's zero percent increase. Due to the difficult economic conditions, the council decided last year to leave the levy amount the same, at $302,303. The four years prior to that, the amount levied for had increased at a rate of either 10 or 15 percent each year.

"It seems like the 3.5 percent is a safe number," said council member Don Patrick, after reviewing the proposed 2010 budget.

The 3.5 percent tax levy increase translates into a $10,580.61 increase for Ottertail taxpayers in 2010. Wagenman said his primary concern is charging people more with the economic conditions still as challenging as they are.