NB council proposes near-flat property tax levy

In a brief meeting Monday night, the North Branch City Council reviewed the city’s proposed 2014 budget and property tax levy for the second to last time.

The budget and property tax levy are both nearly identical to the amounts approved last year.

The 2013 final property tax levy was $4,115,811, and the proposed 2014 levy is $4,212,858.

“The proposed levy with our general fund and debt is down 0.16 percent from last year, and when you add in the HRA and EDA levies, it ends up being a 0.15 percent increase over last year,” North Branch City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said.

The council plans to approve the final 2014 budget and levy at its 7 p.m. Dec. 9 meeting.

Actions from the Nov. 25 meeting

The council also had a meeting Nov. 25 to address action items.

• The council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for P&J Express to store trucks outside at its business location in the 6000 block of 410th Street.

Council Member Joyce Borchardt said she thought the business did not need a conditional use permit to park the trucks there, as other businesses in town do the same without permits, but City Attorney Jay Squires advised her that the owners of P&J Express wanted to make sure they were properly permitted, just in case any issues about the parking were to arise in the future.

The council also focused the language in the conditional use permit because it thought the wording was too broad in the original draft, which might have allowed P&J Express to store more than trucks at the location.

• Resident Stephanie Johnson approached the council during public comment and thanked the city for recent steps it has taken in relation to the rubble pile in the Lucht’s Crossing neighborhood that was leftover when the Green Acres County Care Center was demolished about two years ago.

She said a large block of cement and a boiler tank had been moved inside the fenced area surrounding the pile, and signage in the area had been improved.

Ideally, she and others in the neighborhood want the pile removed as soon as possible, but as part of an agreement reached by a previous North Branch City Council, the pile doesn’t have to be completely gone until 2016.

Mayor Ron Lindquist told Johnson the city is looking into ways to get the refuse removed before that time.

“We’ll keep a monthly update with you so we just don’t drop the ball and keep it in the corner somewhere,” Lindquist said to Johnson.

Johnson said she appreciated the support from the council.

“Baby steps works with me, as long as it keeps moving forward,” she said.

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