December 4, 2023 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 4th day of December 2023 at the hour of 6:03 P.M.

MEMBERS PRESENT:       Mayor Droba and Councilors Buller, Holden, and Kalar

MEMBERS ABSENT:         Councilor Wegner

STAFF PRESENT:              Betty Bergstrom, City Administrator

                                                Lisa Riggs, Deputy City Administrator

Brad Ettestad, Finance Officer

Emma Rud, Finance Officer

Laurie Humbert, Administration Support Specialist

Mike Kostiuk, Police Chief


  1. Mayor introduction/comments.
  2. Presentation of proposed City of International Falls 2024 Budget and Levy Collectible in 2024, 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 the purpose of the meeting is to explain how the city council came to the proposed tax increase of 9.50% for the upcoming year; further emphasizing that the property tax re-valuation was handled by Koochiching County Assessors Office.
Presentation of proposed City of International Falls 2024 Budget and Levy Collectible in 2024 Mayor Droba indicated that an information packet prepared by staff included the following items:

1) Exhibit A— 2024 Preliminary Budget & Levy Adopted on September 25, 2023 (Final Budget & Levy anticipated to be adopted during the December 18, 2023 City Council Meeting)

2) 2024 Summary of Partnership Agency Funding

3) LGA and Property Tax Levy Trends and Changes for years 2009 – 2024

4) Table of LGA for years 2002 – 2024 trends in actual LGA paid to the City

5) Pie charts illustrating the 2023 Revenues and Expenditures in comparison to the proposed 2024 Revenues and Expenditures.

Mayor Droba reviewed the expenditures by fund as listed in Exhibit A, noting that the Local Government Aid (LGA) was certified to increase by $448,539 in 2024. The total amount of LGA from the State is proposed to be $4,931,907.  Mayor Droba noted that the city is very fortunate to continue receiving Local Government Aid from the State of Minnesota.

Mayor Droba went on to explain the pie charts illustrating the 2023 Revenues and Expenditures in comparison to the proposed 2024 Revenues and Expenditures.

City Council questions/comments None.
Public input/questions/comments Mayor Droba welcomed comments from the audience.

Allen Gauthier 1719 3rd Ave E and Paula Black 1718 3rd Ave E stated concerns they had with their property value and tax increases in 2024.  Mayor Droba noted any re-evaluations of property taxes are handled by Koochiching County.

Julie Melstrom, 904 6th street suggested not giving appropriations to Citizens of Backus/AB and to rethink the restructuring of the Public Works department which is anticipated to increase the budget by approximately $10,000.

Seth Boyer, 1706 3rd Ave questioned why the sewer fees on the 2024 budgeted revenues pie chart showed lower fees than the water fees when the sewer fees on his water bill are always higher than the water fees.  Mayor Droba and city staff explained that not all water services have sewer services.

Dan Sweney, 1814 7th Ave E asked why the General Government Fund increased in 2024 compared to 2023.  Brad Ettestad, Finance Officer explained more expenditures are funded in 2024 compared to 2023, showing an unfavorable variance compared year to year.

Bob Sikkila, 1320 13th Street noted concerns with his property taxes increasing when his storm sewer collapsed several years ago and hasn’t been repaired yet.  Mayor Droba stated he would share his concerns with the Public Works department.

Terry Schultz, 622 9th Street confirmed the residents of International Falls would not see a tax increase due to the ambulance deficit.  Mayor Droba confirmed levy money would not be allocated to the ambulance deficit.

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 2024 Final Tax Levy Collectible and 2024 Budget for the City of International Falls, MN would be addressed during the next regular City Council meeting on December 18, 2023.

ADJOURNMENT Mayor Droba adjourned the meeting at 6:52 P.M.

Harley M. Droba, Mayor


Betty Bergstrom, City Administrator

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