December 5, 2022 City Council Truth-in-Taxation Public Hearing and Input Minutes

A Truth-in-Taxation Public Hearing and Input meeting of the City Council of the City of International Falls, Minnesota, was held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building on the 5th day of December, 2022 at the hour of 6:00 P.M.

MEMBERS PRESENT:       Councilors Buller, Krause, Holden, Ditsch, and Mayor Droba.

MEMBERS ABSENT:         None.

STAFF PRESENT:              Betty Bergstrom, City Administrator

Brad Ettestad, Finance Officer

Lisa Riggs, Administration Support Specialist

Makayla Werdier, Office Clerk

Adam Mannausau, Fire Chief

Mike Kostiuk, Police Chief

Todd Ojala, IT Administrator

Chelsea Nelson, City Attorney

Tim Wegner, Center Ward Councilor Elect


  1. Mayor introduction/comments.
  2. Presentation of proposed City of International Falls 2023 Budget and Levy Collectible in 2023, Harley Droba, Mayor
  3. City Council questions/comments.
  4. Public input/questions/comments.
  5. Close the public hearing or recess to continue at a future date (Council action-motion).


Mayor introductions Mayor Droba began the meeting by clarifying that the purpose of this meeting was to explain how they City had come to their proposed tax increase of 5.91% for the upcoming year; further emphasizing that the property tax re-valuation was handled by Koochiching County.
Presentation of proposed City of International Falls 2023 Budget and Levy Collectible in 2023 Mayor Droba indicated that an information packet prepared by staff included the following items: 1) Exhibit A— 2023 Preliminary Budget & Levy Adopted on September 26, 2022 (Final Budget & Levy anticipated to be adopted during the December 19, 2022 City Council Meeting) 2) 2023 Summary of Partnership Agency Funding; 3) LGA and Property Tax Levy Trends and Changes for years 2009 – 2023; 4) Table of LGA for years 2002 – 2023 trends in actual LGA paid to the City; 5) background information from the League of Minnesota Cities including preliminary local government levy changes statewide; 6) Pie charts illustrating the 2022 Revenues and Expenditures in comparison to the proposed 2023 Revenues and Expenditures.

Mayor Droba went on to describe how the City had reduced their early estimate for the 2023 Levy from 10.23% to 5.91% by making the following budget changes: aid normally provided to each Partnership Organization by the Levy was reduced by 20% with a total Levy reduction of 1.67%; various City departments took budget cuts amounting to a 1.176% reduction, and the Fire Department’s fund for a new fire truck took a cut amounting to a 1.47% reduction.

Mayor Droba reviewed highlights and expenditures by fund as listed in Exhibit A, noting that the Local Government Aid (LGA) was certified to increase by $62,452 in 2023. The total amount of LGA from the State is proposed to be $4,483,368. The actual tax levy is proposed to increase in the amount of $200,608 or 5.91% over the levy for 2022. The statewide average increase in the 2023 preliminary levies for all cities is 9.1%. The total property tax levy is proposed to be $3,596,019. Mayor Droba noted that the City is very fortunate to continue receiving Local Government Aid from the State of Minnesota, reminding the room that there have been years (e.g. 2002) where the State has determined aid would not be distributed; in those years, the deficit created in the budget had fallen to the taxpayers.

Mayor Droba went on to explain the pie charts illustrating the 2022 Revenues and Expenditures in comparison to the proposed 2023 Revenues and Expenditures. These charts showed a 1% increase in the 2023 Budgeted Revenue for Sales & Use Tax which Mayor Droba explained to be allotted towards continued road maintenance. Finally, Mayor Droba explained that the 1-2% increase applied to nearly all budgeted expenditures for 2023 is due to overall inflation.

City Council questions/comments None.
Public input/questions/comments Mayor Droba welcomed comments from the audience at 6:36 P.M.

Ed Bates, 108 Riverview Blvd, explained that he spent time reviewing an early, rough draft of a working 2023 budget spreadsheet that he had been able to procure from City staff.  Ed Bates had expressed confusion regarding several items included in this document, and was advised that this confusion would be due to the early, incomplete, and working nature of the documents he had been referencing. Mr. Bates was invited to parlay with the City Administrator, the Council, and the Mayor at a time outside of this meeting— City Administrator Bergstrom guaranteed that any matters and items discussed would be made available to the public. Mr. Bates declined this invitation, further insisting the budget must be decreased. Mayor Droba explained that the existing budget covers bare-bones services that are expected by the community without proceeding with layoffs (i.e. making sure snow is plowed from streets, keeping the streets maintained, assuring water is flowing into homes, and sewage is flowing out, etc.). Councilor Krause reminded the room that, although this 5.91% Levy has not yet been approved for the 2023 year, it cannot be raised.

CLOSED the public hearing


There being no further public comment, Mayor Droba closed the public hearing and input meeting.

Mayor Droba announced that the Approval and Resolution for the 2023 Final Tax Levy Collectible and 2023 Budget for the City of International Falls, MN would be addressed during the next regular City Council meeting on December 19, 2022.

ADJOURNMENT Mayor Droba adjourned the meeting at 6:34 P.M.

Harley M. Droba, Mayor


Betty Bergstrom, City Administrator

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