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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely proposes 4.5-percent property tax levy increase

Hardware store owner to buy former grocery store buildings

Keith Vandervort
Posted 9/22/21

ELY – Property tax payers here are looking at a 4.5-percent levy increase next year. City council members Tuesday night approved a 2022 maximum tax levy of $1,977,900, an increase of $85,600 …

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Ely proposes 4.5-percent property tax levy increase

Hardware store owner to buy former grocery store buildings

Posted

ELY – Property tax payers here are looking at a 4.5-percent levy increase next year. City council members Tuesday night approved a 2022 maximum tax levy of $1,977,900, an increase of $85,600 from the 2021 budget.
Council member Paul Kess noted that as the maximum levy amount was set this week, the actual budget and final tax levy will be set in December.
“We are hopeful we can bring this down,” he said.
City residents will have an opportunity to sound off on the proposed property tax increase at a Truth in Taxation Hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Mayor Roger Skraba advised residents that the proposed 2022 city budget will be available for viewing online or at city hall.
“We try to get as much information available for our residents so they can see what we see,” he said.
In the 2022 budget, proposed to increase from $3,636,200 to $3,893,200, property taxes make up about 13.5 percent of revenues. Local Government Aid is projected to increase from $2,448,500 in 2021 to $2,497,100 next year.
In the property tax summary, the General Fund shows an increase of nearly 10 percent, from $480,000 to $527,100 for next year. The Library fund increases 2.23 percent, from $340,700 to $348,300. The Cemetery fund is projected to rise from $34,500 to $36,100. Debt service is proposed to decrease nearly 6.5 percent, from $311,500 to $291,400. Capital project costs show an increase of 7.35 percent, from $558,900 to $600,000. Equipment replacement also shows a nearly five-percent increase, from $166,700 to $175,000.
Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski said the Wastewater Treatment Plant renovation project, slated for next year, is set for going out for bids soon and depending on those costs, the city’s proposed street and infrastructure projects in the Pattison Street and 9th Avenue area, may be put on hold.
“If we’re short on our wastewater plant project, we have to find the money somewhere, and one of the places is the street projects and we may have to forego one next year,” Skraba said.

New life for old stores
With the Zup’s Market and Northland Market buildings soon to be vacated due to the renovation of the former Shopko building and consolidation of the city’s two grocery facilities, speculation that one of the city’s hardware store owners could expand into a larger retail space became clearer this week.
Jay and Jackie Poshak, owner of the J&L Hardware and Ben Franklin stores on Chapman Street, appeared before the city Projects Committee earlier this month. The couple, representing Eagle Wolf Development, discussed their proposed redevelopment project for both stores with committee members. They said they have purchase agreements for both properties and are seeking the help of the city of Ely and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board for remodeling and upgrading both properties for retail use, “the same use as they currently have at their Chapman Street property.”
The city of Ely agreed to act as the fiscal agent and owner representative for the Poshaks for a funding request to the IRRR commercial redevelopment program. In the meantime, a hazardous materials assessment for the renovation projects will be conducted by Braun Intertec for $5,833. “This is an investment in our community,” Skraba said.
Council member Jerome Debeltz asked for more information on what the Poshaks planned to do with the two buildings. The couple was in attendance at the council meeting but did not comment on their plans.
The Zup’s store was built in 1983 and is about 22,500 square feet. The Northland Market building was built in 1954 and is about 13,000 square feet.
Other business
In other business, the council:
• Agreed with the Budget Committee to approve the purchase of a new heating system for $7,100 for the former city garage building.
• Allowed Fire Chief David Marshall to pursue the replacement of the 1983 Seagrave ladder truck, estimated to cost at least $500,000 for a used truck or $1 million for a new model.
• Hired two probationary members of the fire department, Louis Gerzin IV and Michael Smith. Chief Marshall noted that four generations of the Gerzin family have served on the fire department.
• Set a hearing for Tuesday, Oct. 19 for the disposition of a blight property at 1061 E Madison St., owned by Greg MacCallum.

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