Tax levy

Hutchinson's general fund and debt services levies for 2021 approved by City Council Dec. 22 included $20,000 to start saving up for fleet expenses.

The additional money was discussed at a Truth-in-Taxation hearing earlier this month after it was noted the proposed levy increase had dipped from its preliminary 3.9% to 2%. Adding $20,000 brings the total levy to $7.63 million, an increase of 2.3%.

"In my mind, by itself it's not a lot of money," said Council Member Steve Cook of the $20,000 addition. "But my thought was if the council would make a commitment going forward to increase that amount $10,000 a year ... over time, incrementally it will start adding up and start closing that gap."

Hutchinson is currently operating with a $300,000 gap in what it needs to pay to maintain and replace its fleet of large vehicles such as fire trucks and pay loaders that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The gap was previously closer to $700,000 before staff made adjustments to spending and pushed back replacement dates.

"I think it's time to start putting that money aside," said Council Member Mary Christensen.

The levy and budget were unanimously improved. The decision to increase the levy to start saving for fleet expenses will not force future councils to make the same decision.

The decision followed a public Truth-in-Taxation hearing earlier this month.