LAKE CITY — A $5,000 difference will likely go away. 

That's the plan after the Lake City City Council approved a preliminary budget and levy for 2020 at the Monday night meeting. 

The preliminary levy approved was $3,586,850, an increase of 3.54 percent over the 2019 levy. That figure came after two budget workshops whittled the number down $31,178 of a requested cut of $36,178, according to budget documents. 

City Finance Director Amy Hove told the council that the additional $5,000, earmarked for capital spending, would likely be cut in other areas to make the budget balance with the levy.

"We felt it was OK to leave community center funding where it is, then hope whittling down will make up that difference," she said. 

The final levy and budget – the final levy cannot exceed the preliminary levy passed Monday – must be passed by the council in December. 

City Administrator Rob Keehn said the levy increase is about 1 percent less than the levy increase passed last year. 

While the city's tax base has also increased, Keehn said, it likely won't be enough to offset the increase to the levy.

"We've had new home construction that's been going on, it's been growing pretty well," he said. "And we've had an increase in commercial."

But there has not been enough new construction and new lots to cover the roughly $100,000 increase to the levy, he said.

"Where we offset our costs is revenue we transfer in from the marina, not from growth in tax base," he said. "Although we are seeing that growth, but not at the same pace we're seeing costs increase." 

Council Member Russell Boe said an increase of costs should be expected with the city paying for features that citizens can enjoy.

"We have a lot of good stuff coming, and to keep the same 3.5 percent increase is amazing," he said.

In other business, the city council recognized the work being done by the Lake City 150th Anniversary Committee. The celebration is scheduled for the last week of June 2021, during Waterski Days in Lake City, and will end a year later on the 100th anniversary of the invention of waterskiing, which took place in Lake City. 

The city will be handing out save-the-date cards during the 160th anniversary of the founding of the city of Frontenac, which takes place Sept 21. 

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Regional Reporter

Brian Todd is a 1997 graduate of Nebraska-Omaha. He covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties and writes a weekly column about the life of a reporter.