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Budget is a work in progress

While some of Farmington's city staff are busy getting ready for this weekend's Dew Days celebrations, others have tasks that aren't as much fun to think about. Like, for instance, paring down requests and working up a budget that Farmington City Council members will approve.

City staff and council members have met several times since early May, laying out the plans for the 2011 budget. It started with city administrator Peter Herlofsky asking council members to identify priorities for the upcoming year's budget.

Since that time, Herlofsky said there have been "a variety of issues council has brought up." Those topics were compiled into a list of priorities for city staff, who now are spending the next 30 to 60 days working through those issues.

"I think everyone would like to see a budget that would make everyone happy," Herlofsky said.

What that means, though, still needs to be ironed out. Herlofsky points out that city taxes over the past five years have remained relatively stable. The total increase or decrease has varied from household to household, but for the most part, the city's portion of the total taxes for residents has not increased since 2007.

Most of that has been due to budget cuts. Several staff positions have been cut over the years, and the rest of city staff have "tried to do more with less," Herlofsky said.

But after so many years of trimming here and there, sooner or later, that tactic will take its toll.

Council members have identified public safety as a priority in spending, but Herlofsky pointed out that public safety isn't just limited to police and fire fighters. It's also making sure snow is removed and roads are treated following heavy snowfalls. It's making sure sanitary sewers are in working order to continue moving wastewater from homes, or making sure the storm sewers are in place so the homes don't wash away.

"We want to maintain all of those services and still try to limit cost increases," Herlofsky said. "There's a little bit of a discussion in philosophy on how to accomplish those goals."

The city has until mid-September to come up with a preliminary budget and levy. The final budget and tax levy for 2011 will be approved in December.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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