FAIRMONT - Truman City Council members approved a 40 percent increase in the local property tax levy for 2011 on Monday night. The levy is up $94,364 from 2010.
The council suggested the levy - the maximum the state would allow - in early September with the hopes of lowering it before the budget process needed to be finalized. But heavy storms and subsequent flooding two weeks later nearly drained the city of its reserves, necessitating approval of the full amount.
The city has paid $175,000 in cleanup costs stemming from the storm. Although the federal government has promised to reimburse some of those costs up to 75 percent, it is unclear if or when the money will actually appear. The state has said it will pay the remaining 25 percent of the flood-damage bills, but it faces a $6.2 billion budget shortfall.
The state government's budget deficit could hit the city two ways - a possible decrease or delay in funds to cover flood damage, and a virtual guarantee of a decrease in local government aid.
The City Council decided it is safer to increase the local levy in the event the reimbursements don't come in a timely manner, or are not as much as anticipated.
Also adding to the large budget increase is the addition of a full-time police officer and the fire hall addition bond payment.
Although the city included the police officer at full time, he is currently serving as a part-timer at 30 hours per week. A full-time officer would cost the city $31,260.
Earlier this year, Truman residents approved a fire hall addition project for $555,000. The project, with a 2011 bond payment of $38,925, represents a 16.1 percent increase to the levy on its own, according to firefighter Jake Ebert.