St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis Lays Out Preliminary Budget Plan for 2021

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis Lays Out Preliminary Budget Plan for 2021 Click to Enlarge Photo: City of St. Cloud

(KNSI) - On Monday, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis proposed the city spend at least $2 million less than this year's budget in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the St. Cloud City Council meeting, Kleis unveiled his preliminary 2021 budget, which includes $75.6 million in governmental funds, a decrease of about 2.6%.

Kleis told the city council that because of the current pandemic, the 2021 budget was the most challenging of his administration. It features cuts across the board, with the most significant proposed decreases by percentage for administrative support costs and the community development department.

The proposed preliminary budget is based on a 2.6% decrease in governmental funds. The administrative support department is projected to have the most significant reduction at 18% over its 2020 budget. When Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency in March, Kleis implemented spending and hiring freezes to mitigate an anticipated $10 million shortfall to this year's budget. The deficit is due to decreases in food and beverage taxes, hotel and motel taxes, sales taxes and user fees.

According to the mayor, there is one department that is safe from the hiring freeze; the police department. The budget fully allows for situations in which the administration anticipates retirements and other staffing changes to ensure the department is fully staffed. The public safety department's budget proposes a 1% increase over this year's budget.

The proposed preliminary 2021 budget includes a preliminary tax levy of $29.3 million, an increase over this year's levy. The increase captures the tax base's growth over the previous year, which includes the construction of new homes and businesses. The council must adopt the preliminary budget and tax levy in September.

The council also approves an enterprise budget separate from the city's governmental budget. The enterprise budget includes funds supported by user fees such as water, sewer, and stormwater fees. The proposed 2021 budget features no proposed increases to fees.

Property owners will receive preliminary tax statements in November and will be able to attend a public hearing before the council adopts the final budget and tax levy in December.

KNSI news reporter Seth Coburn contributed this report