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Monroe budget looks at raising property taxes to help solve North Kelsey debt, among other priorities

MONROE — The 2019 budget forecast is for $52 million in revenue and spending that will maintain services, fund key capital improvement projects, and net a few new staffers.
General fund spending of $16.2 million will be up nearly 5 percent, largely due to personnel costs including raises, benefit premium increases and hiring two new parks employees.
In advance of a $2.9 million dollar debt payment for the North Kelsey parcels due in 2020, the city plans to aside $1.77 million by year’s end. It’s partially being paid for with $750,000 from a new 10 percent sewer utility operations tax, $800,000 in reserves and $200,000 in property tax income.
The sewer utility tax is not on ratepayers, Finance Director Becky Hasart emphasized, but on operations. 
The city expects most utility customers will not see an increase in utility bills as 7.5 percent water and 4 percent stormwater increases are offset by a 2.5 percent sewer decrease.
Disabled and low-income ratepayers will see their utility discount rise from 30 to 40 percent.
Expenditures will top $8 million for water, sewer and other public works improvements. The city plans to replace nearly 10,000 feet of water mains among other projects.
Property taxes are also proposed to rise 2.5 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. For the homeowner of a $400,000 property, the increase would be $9.76. The 2.5 cents will net the city an additional $450,000 it’s eligible to collect after not raising taxes to maximum levels in past years. Overall, Monroe projects $3.15 million in property tax revenue for 2019.
The city’s property tax is approximately 10 percent of total property taxes including school district, state, fire district and other agency levies. 
Several streets improvement projects totaling $3.1 million are also in the works. These include reducing congestion at the Kelsey Street/Blueberry Lane intersection and implementing a train quiet zone. Crews will also spend a projected 720 hours patching asphalt and sealing cracks.
The parks department is expected to spend about $500,000 on projects including; finishing the design of synthetic turf fields at Lake Tye; renovating the Lewis Street Park playground; and installing new fencing and a drinking fountain at Wiggly Field Dog Park.
The budget also continues to fund a homeless people’s outreach social worker in the Police Department, $50,000 for YMCA services, and improvements to the public records systems



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