By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre City Council made its last call for public comment on the preliminary city budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year Monday night, and also made a slight increase in its proposed tax hike.
City Clerk Lowell Swenson told the council that a lower-than-expected increase in the quarterly entitlement funds the city receives from the state - from sources like motor vehicle license fees and gambling fees - will mean the city will receive about $3,300 less from the state this year than it had budgeted for. The city will make up the difference, Swenson said, which will mean an additional mill increase of .43 mills.
For someone who owns a $50,000 home, that will mean an additional tax increase of about 73 cents over what the council had already tentatively approved.
"We had less-than-anticipated revenue, so we had to make up that difference," Swenson said after the meeting. He said the increase is not large.
The increase brings the proposed mill levy for next year to 178.74 mills. That means that if the tax levy is approved Monday, the owner of a $50,000 home will pay about $304 in city property taxes, an increase of about $23 from last year.
The increase was one of only two changes to the preliminary budget - the other being an error in the amount written down for the salary of a temporary city worker.
"Other than that, everything's the same," Swenson told the council.
After the meeting, Swenson said that since the hearing was recessed - not adjourned - the public can raise questions and concerns about the budget until the final budget is approved next week.
Any changes to the preliminary budget after Monday night's hearing must be approved by the Finance Committee and the City Council as a whole, Havre Mayor Bob Rice said.
The council will vote a final budget and will set the tax levy next Monday at 8 p.m., Swenson said.