By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
The Havre City Council unanimously approved a $12.2 million preliminary city budget Monday night, and a tax increase that goes with it.
The property tax rate increased from 160.76 mills to 178.31 mills. The tax on a property worth $50,000 would be about $300. That is an increase of about $22.
Property owners can calculate the amount of property taxes they will pay by multiplying the taxable market value on their property by 0.034 and then multiplying that number by 0.17831.
City Council member Tom Farnham, who chairs the council's Finance Committee, said the value of a mill dropped this year from $7,879 to $7,628 because Havre's total taxable valuation dropped this year.
The total taxable value of property in Havre dropped from $7.87 million last year to $7.6 million.
This year's total budget is about $12.2 million, up from last year's total of just over $11 million. This year's general fund budget of $2.65 million is slightly up from $2.58 million last year.
The City Council will take a final vote on the budget on Sept. 15, after a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. Also on Sept. 8 the council will vote on whether to levy 8.28 mills - about $63,160 - to cover half of the 45 percent rate increase for health insurance for city employees. That is an increase of about $14 on a property worth $50,000. Those 8.28 mills are included in the 178.31 total tax mills.
Last week the budget still faced a $37,000 shortfall, Farnham said, until city department heads met and scraped together the additional funds by trimming their budgets.
City Judge Joyce Perszyk will not get the compliance clerk she had requested.
On July 29 the Finance Committee agreed to fund a three-quarter time position. Last week, Farnham said, the Police Department agreed to give up a $23,175 local law enforcement block grant to fund the position. That required a $2,400 match.
This morning Perszyk said she had already had more than $3,000 cut from her budget request for supplies, equipment and travel earlier in this year's budgeting sessions, and could not cut any more. She had to either cut the $2,400 or not get the position.
"They have changed their minds several times," Perszyk said. "Every time I would leave a meeting and come back to another one, something would be different."
"We've been asking for help for 10 years," Perszyk said. "Yeah, I am upset."