Mountain Iron Council OKs preliminary 2020 tax levy

MOUNTAIN IRON — The Mountain Iron City Council unanimously approved a preliminary 3% tax levy increase for 2020 at its Monday night meeting.

However, Mayor Gary Skalko noted that the final levy won’t be determined until the council votes in December. While the increase passed 5-0 Monday, Skalko added that, “I will vote for a 0% levy in December.”

The mayor provided several reasons at the meeting for seeking a 0% increase, which he reiterated in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I don’t think we need it right now,” he said.

“Our health insurance costs did not rise, we may have to face some utility rate increases, and the county will be reassessing our property. With the addition of the new school, there has been an increase in property taxes.”

Last December, the council adopted a 3% tax levy increase, collectible in 2019, which ended a consecutive eight-year stretch of an annual 0% levy increase for the city. Mountain Iron officials cited anticipated increases in heath insurance premiums as a reason for the 2019 tax levy increase.

Skalko said the council did not discuss the dollar amount the levy increase would generate.

The preliminary tax levy “can’t go up, but can go down” when the final levy is approved, he added.

The council also passed a market rate-based referendum levy for 2020 that will raise $84,240 to cover bond payments and interest for the Mountain Iron Community Center, about the same amount levied this year.

Mountain Iron voters in 1998 approved a market-rate based referendum levy for bonds and interest to construct the center. “This is the final year for that bonding,” Skalko said.

The council additionally set an Economic Development Authority levy for 2020 expected to generate about $12,000 for the EDA, which is about the same amount levied the past few years.

In other business, the council:

• Set a Budget Committee meeting for 5 p.m. Nov. 4 at city hall.

• Hired three firefighters: Carter Martinson, Chris Pasch and Michael Gifford.

• Approved a zoning change of a parcel in the Rock Ridge development area from commercial to multi-family. The change was made in preparation for construction of a 70-unit market-rate apartment complex project projected to begin in the spring, Skalko said.

• Approved a contract with the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for $11,550. “By doing this with MMUA, it provides monthly training for all employees and keeps all OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) documents up to date,” Skalko said.

• Approved advertising on Do-Bid.com for a 1997 International 4900 bucket truck no longer being used.

• Approved a variance and conditional use permit for Nick and Micah Beukema for a garage at their North Court residence.

• Passed a resolution in recognition of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Oct. 15.

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