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PLAINVIEW — About 50 people packed the Plainview City Council chambers Tuesday night to ask for a little tax relief. 

The council voted to hold off on passing the levy for 2020 until it has a chance to look at the numbers one more time. It agreed to bring up the issue during a special meeting scheduled for Monday.

"Taxes in Plainview are too darned high," said Steve Erwin, a former mayor of the town. "We have the second-highest tax rate in Wabasha County."

Erwin was one of about 10 people who spoke before the city council during a public hearing on taxes. 

In September, the city passed a preliminary 2020 levy of $2,369,655, an increase of $134,155 over the 2019 levy. The increase represents a 6 percent jump over the 2019 total.

The city saw several budget reductions in the year, mainly the disbanding of the Plainview Ambulance Service and a $26,096 reduction in the city's debt service for 2020. However, the city is still working to increase its fund balance, which currently sits at about 7 percent of the city's annual budget.

The state of Minnesota recommends a 30 percent fund balance, according to minutes from the Sept. 10 Plainview City Council meeting. The city's goal is a 40 percent fund balance. 

However, City Administrator Clarissa Hadler said the bigger impact to people's individual taxes have been the assessments made by the county and the tax base of the city. While the net tax capacity has risen 11 percent over 2019 for 2020, the assessments in some parts of the city have jumped as much as 27 percent. 

"My suggestion would be to put the wish list on hold," said Tony Montgomery, a resident who spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting. "Do the essentials."

One item Montgomery suggested for cuts was the Plainview Police Department. 

Council Member Roger Rettmann said he is currently comparing the Plainview Police Department's budget against other cities of similar size, and he hopes to create a task force to make recommendations. That said, Rettmann noted that so far the city's police department budget is only slightly on the high side compared to other cities. 

Todd Graves, another former mayor, said his property valuation jumped about 22 percent, and he would like to see the city council distinguish between what it needs and what it wants, then make some cuts. 

"We're looking for some action on your part," Graves said. 

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