City of Motley sig

The Motley City Council approved a final 2022 levy increase of 4.16%, Monday.

That bump comes to an increase of $16,212 over what the levy was set at in 2022 — up to $406,198 from $389,968 in 2021. It is, however, a reduction of $1,766 from the preliminary increase of 4.62% that was approved in September.

A majority of those new funds will go to the general fund, with that seeing an amount of levy dollars rising to $228,974 from $206,450 in 2021. Mayor Al Yoder said much of the increase will go toward a pay increase for city employees. The Council felt such a raise was needed to keep its pay rate competitive with surrounding businesses.

“We have a police officer starting at $18.65 an hour, and you can go to Morey’s and Trident and start for $18 - $20 an hour,” Yoder said. “We felt we had to move our city employees up. That’s why the big percentage came in.”

That amount is offset somewhat by decreases in the levy amount received in other areas. For example, the amount of repayments on two separate bonds will draw a total of $6,650 less from the levy in 2022 compared to 2021. There is also a 2.96% decrease to the tax dollars going toward street improvements.

The Council also approved two small changes to the 2022 fee schedule. A $5 fee will be added for non-residents for fingerprinting from the Motley Police Department, and the city’s garbage hauler, Long Prairie Sanitation, is adding a 6% fuel surcharge, beginning in January 2022.

During a truth in taxation hearing prior to the regular meeting, a group from the Mill Pond Homeowners Association came forward to discuss their property taxes. Mike Chapman, speaking for the group, said they were all seeing a significant projected increase to their 2022 taxes.

“It’s obvious that Morrison County has taken a significant increase, as well as the (Staples-Motley) school district,” Chapman said “We are seeing about a 17% increase in our city taxes. We’re just wondering what’s changed from last year that requires a 17% increase?”

Yoder explained that the city’s levy increase could not be higher than the 4.62% set in the preliminary levy. Much of their increase, he said, was due to the value of their properties going up. That valuation is set by the county assessor’s office.

On the discussion of city taxes, Chapman said his group was aware there were discussions during development of the Mill Pond Townhomes. However, he asked for clarification as to why the city doesn’t plow or provide maintenance to Mill Pond Street, which services the neighborhood.

Yoder said, though he was not on the Council at the time, he understood it was because the street was not built at a proper width to be considered a city street. The developer intended for it to be a private road.

“We had some major discussions on that with the developer and the contractor — mainly the developer — and explained to him that it wasn’t wide enough to be a city street,” said Council Member Pat O’Regan, who was on the Council at the time of development. “He said it was none of our business. It was a private development, a private street, we had nothing to say about it. That was exactly what he told us, and we really had nothing to say about it. He wanted it private, and that’s what he got.”

As such, the people in that HOA have to pay a private contractor to plow their street and for other maintenance activities. Yet, they still pay the same portion of the city’s levy. They do, however, receive public utilities through the city along with fire and police protection.

“Beyond that, can you think of anything else in services we get for what we’re paying in taxes?” Chapman said.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you, I feel your pain,” Yoder said. “I live on (the other) side of the city. I don’t have sewer or water. I have my own. But, I’m paying, still, the same as everybody else. The only thing I don’t have is the water or sewer bill.”

Yoder and other members of the Council urged the HOA members to attend the city’s Board of Equalization meeting with Morrison County in April. That is where, they said, they should be able to question or get explanations for the valuation increases on their properties.

“I think we all cringe every time we go through the taxes,” Yoder said. “We don’t want it to happen, but we also have to operate.”

Motley City Council Briefs:

In other business Monday, the Motley City Council:

• Approved a tanker repair for the Motley Fire Department at a cost of $4,514.75;

• Approved a request by the Fire Department to advertise that it is wanting to hire more firefighters;

• Approved by a 3-1 vote — with Council Members Jace Carlson, Amy Hutchison and Pat O’Regan in favor and Steve Johnson against — a request from Police Chief Jason Borash to join Morrison County in its body worn camera plan.

Equipment and participation will cost the city $4,353 annually during a 10-year contract. The approval is contingent on the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office moving forward with the plan;

• Approved a request to put a $3,007.22 rebate from Sourcewell into the Fire Department’s truck fund;

• Received the resignation of Administrative/Accounting Assistant Karen Pogreba, and approved a request to fill her position;

• Approved a $2,086 purchase of two new computers for the administrative department; and

• Thanked Public Works Director Bruce Brotherton and his crew for their work on the Christmas lights display.

The next meeting of the Motley City Council is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at Motley City Hall.

Load comments