Alta council votes to hire tax levy

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Alta City Council voted to set the maximum spending levy at $11.51, up from the current $10.59, following a public hearing at the Feb. 3 regular meeting.

The amount is not the city’s final budget levy but is the maximum the council can choose to levy.

In upcoming budget meetings, a determination will be made about the actual budget levy and what priorities will be addressed, including infrastructure improvements and various funding. The next budget meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18. “$11.51 is setting a high bar,” Mayor Kevin Walsh said. If the council decides to set the final budget levy at $11.51, then the City of Alta would gain approximately $66,000, Alta City Clerk Megan Peterson said.

During the public hearing, residents’ comments ranged from concern of an increase because a selling point in Alta is its decent property tax, to another resident who would like to know that a possible increase would go toward infrastructure and not for useless spending.

In other Council matters

Heidi Reetz from the City of Alta Park Board updated the council on plans to develop two new parks in Alta, a city park funded by the park board and a school park funded by the school district, headed by the Warrior Parent Teacher Association. “We are trying to improve the parks in this town,” Reetz said, in lieu of residents going to Storm Lake for the parks.

In addition, Reetz requested the council reduce or waive the rental fee for the upcoming park board fund raiser event to be held on Feb. 29. The council voted to waive the rental fee for the fundraiser. The fiesta-themed fundraiser with dance and silent auction will be held from 6:30 p.m. until midnight on the 29th at the Alta Community Center, 409 W. 7th St. Tickets are $20. and can be purchased on Facebook, at Alta Elementary School, Buffalo Ridge or at the door.

Reetz also reminded the council that the park board is making an effort to bring the concession stand back at the swimming pool.

The council voted to hire YouniQue Tree Removal to remove nearly two dozen ash trees infected with the emerald ash borer disease. The current ash tree infestation is in one square block near 6th to 7th Streets from Main to Cherokee Streets.

Brad Pederson, Alta City Street Supervisor, told council members that some of the trees are so brittle, they drop to the ground and the city is responsible to clean up the debris by raking and removing, so his department requested bids. Mayor Walsh said there are funds in the budget for this project, and the council voted to award the bid to YouniQue.

The emerald ash borer infestation was confirmed in Alta ash trees in June of 2019 and continually infects ash trees. “It continues to migrate from tree to tree,” Pederson said, indicating the plan is to have YouniQue drop the trees in the street, remove them and clean up the debris.

The city has received four applications for the Code Officer position, and they will solicit for more applications.