By Clay Schuldt
On Sept. 9 the Caledonia City Council set the proposed 2014 tax levy at five percent. This means that most taxes for Caledonia residents will increase by five percent, which represents a $30,832 hike in the city’s budget over year prior.
While the proposed increase is five percent, the council has two months to decide the final tax levy, which could be lower than five percent, but not higher.
At the previous City Council meeting, the council had considered setting a proposed levy increase of eight percent as they had last year, but Mayor Robert Burns said he was confident Caledonia could manage a smaller increase.
Prior to setting the proposed levy, the council went through a list of a capital items that may need to be purchased in 2014. The total cost for all 2014 capital equipment purchases was $621,070. The council decided to trim that to $148,500 and include:
• New equipment for the clerk’s office
• City Hall roof repairs
• New carpeting in the police/ambulance building
• A new computer for Police Department
• A portable deck gun for the Fire Department
• Shop apron repair for the Street Department
• Tuckpointing and storm water drainage repair for the auditorium
• Two computers for the library
• $50,000 set aside for the Winnebago Street Shared Use Path along Hwy. 44.
A vehicle purchase for the Street Department was not included in the estimate.
The council will set the final budget during the Nov. 25, 2013, City Council meeting.
With the installation of a new sidewalk along North Kingston, the council needed to make a decision about snow removal and whether it was the property owner’s responsibility or the city’s. The majority of the council agreed that the most northern end of the sidewalk would need to be the city’s responsibility as there was no adjacent residential property.
Burns thought the city needed to clear the sidewalk from Hackney Street all the way north.
In addition, this section of the sidewalk only serves the purpose of accessing the future walking trail. “The one sidewalk section that has no boulevard at all running right next to the street with the retaining wall – I think we’re going to have to take care of that,” Burns said. “Every time we plow the street it is going to pile up with snow… I think it is our responsibility to clean that sidewalk off.”
Burns made a motion to put this into effect. The motion was approved 3-2 with Council members Tom Murphy and DeWayne Schroeder voting against.
Alternate side parking
Schroeder broached the subject of alternate side parking enforcement.
“Last year everyone had a different idea and half the time they didn’t enforce it,” Schroeder said adding that he wanted police to ticket vehicles in violation of the ordinance regardless if there is snowfall.
Schroeder cited instances where vehicles were not moved for days at a time and not ticketed. “It’s on the books, let’s enforce it,” said Schroeder.
The council agreed to have police step up enforcement this winter season.
Council member Randi Vick suggested the council have some leniency in regard to vehicles confused by months ending in 31 days, like December and January. Both months ended in odd numbered dates and are followed by an odd numbered date.
Last year several vehicle owners were ticketed because they moved their vehicles even though it was not necessary. Vick said these people were following the spirit of the ordinance but simply made a mistake due to an oddity in the calendar.
Surveying and engineering
Several residents voiced concerns over the recent expansion of Norman Snodgrass’s property on East Grant Street, which prompted the city to investigate. It was confirmed that a survey stake had been moved and Snodgrass had encroached on 20 to 25 feet of city land and re-sloped the land.
Murphy said he did not approve of individuals going onto city property and making changes. “What may be good for him or good for you, may not be good for this person. You can’t go onto my property and change things,” he said.
Schroeder agreed saying, “If he takes a little bit, he’s going to take more.”
The council did not want to set a precedence and allow this encroachment. A surveyor will be brought in to re-mark the property line.
The council said that if the City of Caledonia provides engineering services for a private entity or company, the individual or company needs to be responsible for the fees.
This decision came as a result of an expense billed to the city for preliminary engineering services conducted by Davy Engineering for the Sno Pac Interceptor project.
“We need to have an arrangement that if we provide engineering for someone they need to pick up the cost,” Burns said.