September 11, 2008

City reviews big dollar budget items

By Ken Beauchamp
Rising cost of fuel for city vehicles, propane and electricity for city buildings and an estimated 25 percent increase in employee medical insurance rates are the targeted increases in Beulah’s 2009 preliminary budget approved by the City Council Sept. 2. The budget followed a special budget meeting called by the mayor to give councilmen time to hash out the details aside from a regular meeting.
City Auditor Linda Wiedrich, said after the meeting that the city is estimating revenues of $3,873,550 for 2009 and expects expenditures in the budget to spend $3,846,070. That balance leaves the city budget in slightly better shape than last year, when Mayor Darrell Bjerke noted the council had left only $5,000 unaccounted for.
Wiedrich said the city has been running a tight budget for the last three years and the city has not invested any money during that period. She also added that 2009 is the final year on a five-year agreement with Great River Energy on coal taxes.
Great River began buying out-of-state coal four years ago and cut an agreement with the state to continue the coal taxes for a five-year period. That payment is $18,994, according to the auditor. That is the final reduction in a payment that started at $37,000 in its first year.
City employees eligible for health insurance began paying a portion of the premiums last year and contribute 10 percent of a single-family policy to their Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage. The cost to the city for a family plan is expected to rise to $1,130 a month when the projected increases take effect in 2009. Estimates were for a 21-29 percent increase with the city settling on 25 percent for budgeting purposes. The rates must be approved by enactment of the state legislature meeting next year. That will be an increase of $304.24 and a single plan will increase to $342.96, up from $428.70.


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