North Mankato Council members poured over the meat and potatoes of the preliminary budget for 2019 on Tuesday night, with a proposed 4-percent spending increase.

Staff is proposing an increase of nearly 993-thousand dollars, which increases the budget to approximately 23.8-million dollars next year. Some of the increases stem from an anticipated 7-percent rate hike for health insurance in 2019, a 50-thousand dollar increase to fund projects in the parks plan, 20-thousand dollars more to address pavement projects and 250-thousand dollars for facilities replacement. 

City Administrator John Harrenstein says they arrived at the funding for buildings after making other improvements over the last five years to infrastructure that included the Swim Facility and City Hall.

“What that means is, some of the city facilities are going to be aging and more of them are going to be aging. Those that were in the area in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, understand North Mankato was growing at a considerable rate at that time, undergoing a lot of public improvement projects. Some of those public improvement projects are now over 50-years old and we’re gonna need to begin investing money in them.”

As North Mankato continues to grow, so does the tax base, as the market value is projected to increase by 8-percent, or 89-million dollars in 2019. Sixteen-percent of the increase is attributed to 14-million dollars of new construction.

Finance Director Kevin McCann says they are recommending a .5-percent reduction in the tax rate to 51.6-percent for 2019.

“In doing so, we’re still gonna generate about 600-thousand dollars in new taxes for the city. So this is essentially where we’re taking the next step to use that money to help drive some of these park improvement plans, street maintenance plans, things like that.”

The Tax Levy is preliminarily set at 6.9-million dollars, up from this years 6.3-million dollars. Since 2013, the tax rate has decreased by 3-percent.

A 1-dollar a month increase is proposed for recycling rates to generate an additional 56-thousand dollars in income to offset costs, as Nicollet County will end its contribution to the facility in 2019.

Officials plan to set the maximum tax levy later this month and approve the budget in late December.