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Debt service driving Pine Island levy up

PINE ISLAND — The Pine Island City Council unanimously approved a preliminary levy of $1,942,575 at Tuesday night's council meeting. That represents a 20.3 increase over the 2015 levy of $1,614,880.

"I know you wanted to keep it at 20 percent, and we're at 20.3 percent," said city administrator David Todd. "Thirteen percent of that is the increased debt service."

That debt, said Mayor Rod Steele, has been necessary to pay for street projects in the city. "We had to go up 13 percent no matter what," Steele said. "It's the opinion of the council we don't want to cut services. But we're going to continue to pound away at the budget."

The final vote on the levy will be made in December. The levy approved Tuesday night is a maximum, but can still be cut if the council chooses to make changes to the budget and levy approved Tuesday.

Todd said the preliminary levy would mean a tax of $1,067.82 on a home valued at $100,000. That is an increase of $114.72 over a similarly valued home in 2015. The tax on a business valued at $350,000 would be $6,673.89, an increase of $717.01 over 2015.


In other business, the council directed city attorney Bob Vose to continue negotiations with New Haven Township over a maintenance agreement on 125th Street. The road provides access to the new elementary school in Pine Island.

Vose told the council that the city has no authority to remove the barricade at the eastern end of 125th Street where it connects to 85th Avenue just east of the school.

Steele said the barricade, which limits the access to the new school by diverting all traffic to the west side of the school, was put up because the township board felt there were safety concerns about the traffic on the road.

"We have different philosophies," Steele said concerning the city council and the township board.

The maintenance agreement would not cover the barricade, Steele said. Instead it would cover topics such as snow removal and maintenance due to increased traffic. The city's main concern, the mayor said, is making sure the township gets the road plowed in time to keep the school opening on time. "It's got to be done in time to get the school buses down that road," he said.

The road, which is not paved, is due to be paved by the county some in the spring of 2017, Steele said. "What we're hoping through this agreement is to deal with traffic and plowing for the next year and a half until the county builds that road," he said.

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