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City of Morris plans to freeze taxes again in 2015

MORRIS – The city of Morris will aim to freeze its tax levy again in 2015.

At a Morris City Council meeting on Tuesday, City Manager Blaine Hill presented the council with his guidance for how the city will prepare the budget for 2015. Some provisions include:

  • maintain a zero percent increase for the general fund and library fund levies;
  • discuss an increase to the wages for the mayor and city council;
  • use excess local government aid to keep the budget balanced;
  • increase funding to Community Education and Economic Development by between one and two percent;
  • invest $200,000 in capital outlay projects;
  • add a community service officer back to the Morris Police Department and reduce one full-time secretary position to part time;
  • develop a priorities capital equipment purchases list; and
  • review water and sewer rates.

Beginning next year, the city will also need to add a “conservation rate” structure to their water billing. Hill said he anticipates hiring a contractor to do a rate study on the city’s water.

“We need to review our water and sewer rates to make sure that we’re operating our business the right way to cover all our costs,” said Hill.

The budget guidance also includes a provision to start planning for the cost of a new or updated firetruck for the Morris Fire Department. Hill said this was the year to start looking at those needs to decide how to proceed.

Developers ask for tax help on Highway 28 project

The cost of putting in needed infrastructure is bogging down a potential development on the corner of Highway 28 and Highway 9 in Morris, City Manager Blaine Hill.

The city’s bond and Tax Increment Financing consultant will be in Morris next week to meet with the parties involved to discuss tax abatements or other financing options.

A final plat for the property has not come back to the council for review and approval.

Other business

  • The state of Minnesota has allocated additional money for airport projects, City Manager Blaine Hill said. The extra five percent funding will lower the city’s share of a current airport hangar project and will make a proposed parallel taxiway project more affordable.
  • The council voted to exercise the city’s right to terminate an agreement with Rainbow Rider to house a Rainbow Rider bus in the city garage. Hill said the city needs the heated garage space to house a city transit bus inside during the winter.
  • The council appointed Julie Evink to the Tourism Board.
  • The council approved a payment of $15,414 to F and S Concrete for curb and gutter and sidewalk work at the city shop and along Pacific Avenue. The council also approved a $5,615 payment to Mudpumpers Mudjacking for work along Pacific Avenue.