Council approves 2018 budget, levy

NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council approved the final 2018 budget and property tax levy.

The council held a public hearing on the levy during their Dec. 5 meeting. No changes were made to the budget since the hearing.

The gross property tax levy for 2018 was set at $7,223,672 which is an increase from 2017 of $119,094 or 1. 68 percent.

Brown County tax capacity increased by 3.02 percent in the last year. Due to this increase the actual impact of the levy is a decrease of 2.52 percent. Tax payers with no change in their estimated market value should see a slight decrease in the city portion of their property taxes.

In other news, the 2018 capital improvement program (CIP) was adopted. The program includes recommendations to reconstruct 1.6 miles failing roads in the city. New Ulm has approximately 84.7 miles of local and state aid streets. As of now 14.35 miles of roads are at the failing end of the city’s pavement management system.

Councilor Les Schultz said this was an improvement from 2010 in which the city had 30 miles of failing roads. Within seven years the city had managed to cut that number in half.

The recommendation also calls for a reconstruction of German Street from 3rd North Street to 7th North Street, including utilities and sidewalk.

City Engineer Steve Koehler said the city met with the baseball association, Park and Rec and other area athletic organizations. All agreed with the need to redo the roadways near Johnson Park.

The reconstruction to German Street is an opportunity to perform pedestrian safety improvements. On 4th North the city would add a pedestrian bump-out as a traffic calming measure. The curb would remain extended through the intersection to the end of the grandstand area for Johnson football field. This would create a plaza-type area near the ticket booth. On-street parking for people with disabilities will be added as well.

These improvements will be done at the same time the Minnesota Department of Transportation is conducting repairs on 7th North in connection with the Highway 15 project. Koehler said it was better to get these project done at the same time and before the amateur baseball tournament in 2020.

The estimated costs for the CIP is $5,649,438.

New Ulm Cable Access Television (NUCAT) received a design for the high-definition (HD) upgrade to the Council Chamber’s audio visual equipment from MoreCom. The plan is to replace some of the monitors in the chamber and replace the standard-definition with HD cameras.

These improvements will bring the technology up to date. Most people viewing city meetings on cable TV will be able to see the meetings with a sharper image. The project is estimated at $65,172.80.

In related news a purchase agreement to upgrade camera equipment in the NUCAT studio was approved. The current equipment is nearly 24 years old and needs to be updated to HD for the upcoming transition to an HD channel. The recommended quote is from B&H, at $23,232.11.

A $20,000 budget carryover for NUCAT was approved to allow the purchase of an HD content server. Without this server the NUCAT channel will remain in standard definition.

The council accepted a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Office of Justice to be used by the Police Department for sex trafficking prevention initiatives.