Common Council approves 2011 budget

Last Tuesday evening, the City of Merrill Common Council overcame some obvious reluctance and passed the ordinance establishing the 2011 budget totaling just over $13.5 million.

The budget ordinance included a tax levy of $4,850,988 which is a 3.24 percent increase over 2010 and will mean the owner of a home valued at $75,000 will pay $935 in taxes or an increase of $26.

Prior to the start of the meeting, the council held a brief public hearing on the budget, and no members of the public spoke nor did any members of the council offer any amendments.

When it came time to act on the ordinance, none of the eight members were willing to make a motion to give it a second or third reading, which would have laid the budget over until the December meeting for action.

When City Treasurer and Finance Director Kathy Unertl asked what would happen if the budget was not passed that night, as is required, City Attorney Tom Hayden replied “I guess we will have to get by the best we can.”

At that point, Steve Hass made the motion to give the budget a second and third reading and the budget passed by a 7-1 vote, with Eighth District Alderwoman Anne Caylor casting the lone nay vote.

Mayor Bill Bialecki said after the ordinance was passed that the council really had no choice but to approve the tax increase.

“Twenty-six dollars doesn’t sound like much until you look at what it is already,” he said. “We’re going to have to do a lot better in the future.”

Also during the meeting, the council approved two resolutions authorizing the city to apply for two Build America loans and settled various grievances filed by the Merrill City Employees Union.

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