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Now comes the tough part for the city council

Congratulations to the Glencoe City Council. Councilors completed the easy part of the 2019 budget process last Monday, Sept. 17. Now comes the challenge, approving an operating budget complementing next year’s property tax levy.
City staff deserves credit for presenting the council with a preliminary 6.8 percent proposed levy increase intended to add little or no new property tax liability to existing property. This is the result of increasing value of property in the city of Glencoe. Increasing value, especially if you’re a seller, is a good thing.
The city’s levy for 2019 is primarily aimed at paying the debt service for needed infrastructure projects. The levy for the general fund is not changing. The city pays its bills for everyday operations from the general fund. But without additional revenue, the city will need to curb its spending or dip into reserves. After all, staff will receive raises in pay. We all know insurance costs are skyrocketing despite the promises of state and national politicians to fix that problem. The police department has received preliminary support for body-worn cameras and new Tasers, both good ideas.
After approving the preliminary levy, Mayor Randy Wilson challenged councilors to bring their ideas for controlling the growth of spending to upcoming council meetings.
Though it can be a painstakingly slow and sometimes curious process, citizens should be watching the budget process unfold. The city will take in more revenue this year from the state in the form of local government aid, the buy-down of taxes dating back several decades. Glencoe received just over $1.404 million in LGA in 2018. It expects to receive $1.408 million in 2019.
The city’s 2018 operating budget is just over $3.7 million. The levy covers about $1.58 million and LGA contributes just over $1.404 million.
To be determined: How will the city council handle the general fund budget next year. Will services to citizens be reduced in some fashion? Cutting spending is easy. Doing so in a way that doesn’t impact the quality of life in the city is sometimes challenging.
Citizens will suggest ways councilors cut spending in 2019. That’s a good thing. Council members have a right to see who will be impacted by the reduction. The largest areas cities spend money on is public safety (police and firefighters), public works (streets), and parks.
Councilors have some work to do. No doubt it will be a job done well.

-jm