City to add recycling fee

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – City homeowners could see a $9.50 recycling fee on their next property tax bill.

A proposed 2015 city budget – which keeps the property tax levy the same as last four years but would add the recycling fee along with the $24 garbage fee that was added last year – was introduced to the City Council Tuesday.

With a 2.7 percent increase in total equalized property values in the city, the $4,008,042 property tax levy will result in a tax rate of $6.87 per $1,000 of equalized value, City Administrator Brian Yerges told the council. That is a drop of 18 cents, or 2.6 percent, in the rate.

A public hearing is scheduled on the proposed $7,277,909.36 budget at the council’s Nov. 11 meeting, with the final vote expected then.

But the proposed budget generated some heated discussion Tuesday, sparked by Alderman Jim Faller questioning the $100,000 donation to the Food Science and Agriculture Center project at Plymouth High School that is part of the more than $900,000 in capital projects.

Noting that the Plymouth Education Foundation, which led the fundraising effort for the project, set a goal of $1 million and raised $1.066 million, Faller asked, “Why are we throwing $100,000 at it if they’ve already raised enough money? It’s a misuse of the tax levy.”

“Whether it’s right or wrong, the council approved the resolution (making the donation) two months ago,” Alderman Jim Sedlacek responded.

Faller asked where the request for the donation came from and questioned the role of City Attorney Crystal Fieber, who is president of the PEF, charging that she had a conflict of interest.

He asked what the PEF is planning to do with the $100,000 from the city, commenting that they could throw quite a party with the money.

“Our city attorney made no vote on that resolution,” Mayor Donald Pohlman pointed out

Council President Charles Hansen chastised Faller for his comments, pointing out that the original request came from School District Superintendent Dr. Carrie Dassow and defending Fieber.

“I am disappointed in that accusation,” Hansen said of Faller’s comments. He added that Faller, if he had an objection, should have saved his comments for the council’s budget deliberations Nov. 11, not during Yerges’ informational presentation of the proposed budget.

Yerges noted that the budget includes funding for two studies – a Mullet River corridor plan/FEMA floodplain map study and a shared services recreation study.

Pohlman and Alderman Shawn Marcom both praised the budget effort led by Yerges. Marcom praised the diligence of Yerges and department heads in preparing the budget, while Pohlman commented, “The process we have gone through each year continues to improve our fi- nancial position. We find ourselves in a debt position substantially better than we were 10 or 15 years ago.”

Faller questioned why the city continues to prioritize paying down debt service and told Yerges, “I’ve never heard you say ‘reduce the tax levy.’ So the point is, if you’ve got money, spend it?”

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