Letter: City of Chatfield 2020 tax levy still not up to expectations

We the undersigned are extremely disappointed in the response of the City Council of Chatfield to our letter to the editor published in the Sept. 18 edition of The Chatfield News. We requested that the 2020 tax levy not exceed 2.5 percent, which would still exceed the rate of inflation of 1.8 percent for the 12-month period ended July 31, as stated by the U.S. Department of Labor.  It had been reported in the Sept. 9 edition of the Bluff Country Reader that the City Council had proposed a preliminary tax levy increase of 9 percent or more for the 2020 City of Chatfield budget.

According to an article on page 5 of the Sept. 30 edition of the Fillmore County Journal titled, Chatfield adopts preliminary 2020 levy and budget, at a meeting held Sept. 23, the council unanimously approved an 8.47 percent increase in the levy.  Rather disappointing to the 26 of us who signed the letter to the editor.

Mayor Smith and Councilor Broadwater expressed sentiments of understanding our statements in the letter.  A drop of 0.53 percent hardly seems more than “lip service” to our letter.

Councilor Novotny in the article says that if we don’t take care of the streets and other things when needed, it will cost us more later.  That may not always be the case regarding street work, it can depend on the cost of asphalt oil for blacktopping and the workload of contractors when they bid on a job.

Councilor Novotny, who voted for the levy increase, has apparently forgotten his comments made at the Dec. 10 meeting of the City Council of Chatfield as reported in an article in the Fillmore County Journal dated Dec. 17.  When questions were raised about future levy increases, Novotny insisted his goal is to keep levy increases in the range of 3 to 6 percent.

Fillmore County: 2020 preliminary levy increase of 3.49 percent

City of Wykoff: 2020 preliminary levy increase no increase

City of Austin: 2020 preliminary levy increase of 4.03 percent

City of Preston: 2020 preliminary levy increase of 4.57 percent

City of Spring Valley: 2020 preliminary levy increase of 5.16 percent

City of Plainview: 2020 preliminary levy increase of 6 percent

Average 2020 preliminary levy increase for the five cities is 3.95.  City of Chatfield 8.47.

Based on the above figures, the City of Chatfield continues to be the leader in tax levy increases.  The FCJ article of Sept. 30 quotes a council member concerning $300,000 of state aid cuts.  If the cities of Austin, Spring Valley, Preston, Plainview and Wykoff also had state aid cuts, how can their tax levies be so much lower than Chatfield?

In our lives all of us have things we “want.”  Many times we have to settle for the things we really “need.” Few people likely ever get all that they “want.”  Is the City Council settling for the things that are really “needed?”

Speaking of expenditures, how much did it cost the City of Chatfield [taxpayers] to allow Dollar General to come to Chatfield?  If there was an expenditure, was it a “want by the council” or a “need in the opinion of the Council?”  Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely.

Recently a realtor told one of the undersigned that whenever they show a residential real estate listing in the City of Chatfield, that some times an offer is never made by the client of the realtor because of the excessively high real estate taxes in the city of Chatfield.  We believe it is the goal of the city to have steady growth, however high real estate taxes are hampering growth.  We believe that most realtors are fully aware of the cost of real estate taxes in all the area communities, and will make recommendations to their clients accordingly.

We all realize that the mayor and the council positions are not full-time positions.  The mayor and the council rely heavily on the city clerk to manage the city and provide information to them and make recommendations to them for their approval. 

We thank the mayor and the council for their time and efforts.

Respectfully submitted,

Lyman Grieve

Arleen Amundson

Joanne Lovejoy

Susan Wright

Marge Huper

Helen Swore

Deb Brummond

Arleta Fenwick

Joann Gillespie

Alice Ernster

Terry and Jeri Zimmerman

Shirley Hrstka

Cheryl Danielson

Clyde and Judy Sogla

Lonny and Linda Berge

Charles and Geri French

Gary and Patricia Stevens

Bob and Carol Thom

Lonny and Jane Herrick