Shell Lake City Council approves 2018 city budget

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Danielle Danford | Staff writer

SHELL LAKE – In a special meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Shell Lake City Council approved the 2018 city budget. All members of the city council were present for the meeting.

Overall, the 2018 budget totals $2,172,225, an increase of $3,630 over the city’s 2017 budget. For taxpayers the levy was set at $990,406, a $5,612 increase over 2017.

Some of the things prioritized in the 2018 budget include providing material for the 2019 city street projects. The city budgeted $18,000 for a company to come and crush concrete material that will be used in the 2019 street projects. This project will include renovating Sand Road.

The budget includes $12,000 for improvements on the Shell Lake Community Center. These funds will likely be used to replace the ceiling and lighting in that building. The budget also includes $5,000 for a garage building at the municipal airport. The Shell Lake Aero Club is funding the remaining cost of that project. The building will be used to house the airport mower and courtesy car.

The budget also includes $5,000 for crack fill and $3,000 for street painting projects in 2018.

Library funding

During public comment, Sally Bartz, Shell Lake Library Board president, told the council that the proposed 2018 budget did not fulfill their funding request to make the library director full time.

Last year the library board requested funding to make the library director full time. Bartz told the council that the biggest hurdle in making this happen is the cost for benefits it would create, which is estimated to cost around $30,000.

The Register reported last year that the city funded the library an additional $5,000 over the existing budgeted amount in lieu of funding the library director position to 30 hours full time.

According to the city budget document, the library will receive $87,742 for 2018. This is an increase of $5,000 over the amount the city funded the library last year.

Bartz and Amy Stormberg, library director, told the council that the library’s funding for 2018 from the county is down $3,000 due to decreased circulation in the county. Stormberg told the council that public library funding from counties is guaranteed by state law according to a formula that is tied to a library’s circulation. But this only applies to counties, not other municipalities. In 2018 the library will receive $36,456 from Washburn County funding and $10,882 from adjacent county funding.

Bartz provided the council with a new budget that did not include the library director position being full time. This revamped budget includes a 2-percent raise for library employees and some cost-of-living increases. From what Bartz and Stormberg told the council it appeared the request included the city funding the library the additional $3,000 to cover the decrease in county funding.

After public comment, the council took up discussion on five specific funding motions. The funding motions were made from a document Terry Leckel, Ward 2 representative, distributed to the council. The funding motions involved increasing or decreasing an amount of funds from the city’s contingency fund. Only one of these was passed, which was for $10,000 to fund repairs on the city’s tennis court.

One of the motions that failed was for $2,100 of contingency funds to go to the library in addition to their existing funding amount. During discussion on the motion, Ken Schultz, Ward 2, commented that he supports and appreciates the library, but the city isn’t solely responsible for the library funding. Rob Anderson, Ward 2, commented that he is sensitive to the needs of the library but is also sensitive to the needs of other city departments and just because the library’s county funding went down the city shouldn’t be the one responsible for making up the difference.

The council then approved denying the library’s updated budget that they presented during public comment.

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