NB council swiftly approves budget, property tax levy

Approving the 2014 city budget and property tax levy at the North Branch City Council meeting Monday was just a formality, as the legwork had been done at numerous meetings starting in July.

Following a discussion that took less than five minutes, the council approved the budget and levy.

The levy is nearly identical to last year’s, with the total amount being $4.21 million.

The levy with the city’s general fund and debt is down 0.16 percent from last year, but when the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Economic Development Authority levies are incorporated, it ends up being a slight increase of 0.15 percent.

Other council actions

• The council chose not to participate in a regional housing study organized by Lakes and Pines Community Action Council. The study, which costs around $3,000 for cities that choose to participate, would have relayed information to the council and staff regarding housing trends and needs in North Branch.

Councilmember Trent Jensen said he could see the information being useful to a developer, but he didn’t see why the city should be paying for the information.

• Councilmember Kathy Blomquist gave an update on the Rush Line Corridor Task Force, which is composed of portions of Anoka, Pine, Chisago, Washington and Ramsey counties. Members of the Rush Line Corridor Task Force have been meeting since 1999 to study transportation improvements between those counties.

After 15 years, she said the task force has finally put together a request for proposal to determine the preferred public transit method for the corridor.

“The next year (for the task force) might be busy and exciting,” she said.

• The council voted to keep its yearly pay for 2014 the same as it was in 2013. The mayor will make $3,750 next year, with each councilmember receiving and $3,000.

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