Preliminary levy set at a 1.64 percent increase over 2020

By Chad Koenen


axes could see a slight uptick next year after the city council approved a 1.64 percent preliminary tax levy increase.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the council approved a $3,470 increase to its preliminary tax levy. The council can decrease that amount, but not increase it, when the tax levy is finalized later this year. 

The council got to its preliminary levy after a work session in late August and finalized its preliminary tax levy near the end of its meeting last week. The council went line by line with the budget and made several budget cuts to make it align more closely with recent spending. 

Among the cuts to the budget that were proposed were the HSA for all departments of $9,45, council and board wages and salaries of $775, operating supplies for streets and public works of $3,000 and wages and salaries in the parks and recreation department of $1,050.

Henning Mayor Darren Wiese said the council approved cutting the employee’s HSA at the end of the year during its April 5 meeting. Last week he questioned why the item was placed in the budget for 2022 in the first place. He said the HSA should not be a part of the budget unless the council approves adding it back into the budget. 

The council also approved adding $15,000 to the legal fees, which had no money allocated in the budget and a 2 percent cost of living increase for city employees.

In other news

• Approved not issuing a credit card or debit card for Willow Creek to purchase items for the dietary department until a policy regarding debit and credit cards is in place. The council recently approved issuing a debit card to purchase items for the dietary department in bigger communities like Alexandria, Minn., however, one had yet to be formally issued. City Attorney Tom Jacobson said the city council should have a formal policy in place before issuing a credit card for the use of purchasing groceries in a different community. The council encouraged Willow Creek to continue to work with B&D Foods to purchase fresh items that it needs. 

• Heard there are currently 20 residents at Willow Creek and the facility is still open to visitation. 

• Heard from Roger Hicks who is purchasing the PRIDE Construction building in the industrial park. He is also requesting to purchase a piece of land in the industrial park from the city to expand his business. Hicks constructs portable RV cabins in Oregon, but was interested in moving his main operation to Henning. He said the portable RV cabins are under 400 square feet and it takes 3-4 people to build each one. The council said they were interested in working with Hicks to move his company to Henning. 

• Approved refinancing the city’s 2012 General Obligation Water Revenue Bond. The city’s current interest rate is 3.5 percent, but could refinance the bond of 1.25 percent to save approximately $57,000 over the remainder of the life of the bond. 

• Heard from Bob Schlieman, of Apex Engineering, about a main wastewater lift station and Inman Street Utility and Street Improvement project. The estimated cost for the lift station would be $580,000 and would construct a new lift station. The city has also been contacted by Otter Tail County about improvements it is planning to make on Inman Street from Marshall Avenue and Trunk Highway 210. If the city was interested, it could replace its aging sanitary sewer collection and water distribution infrastructure. Schlieman said the projects have been submitted to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority in an effort to receive funding for the proposed improvements to see if it could obtain a grant or low interest loans similar to what the city received for this year’s for 2nd Street project.