Like many other cities, Big Lake faced some significant challenges while developing the 2014 to 2015 Budget. With increasing debt payments and a significant shortfall in the general operating budget, the City was facing its largest tax levy increase to date.
With concerns about the anticipated increase and the resulting effect on our already-struggling business community (which are taxed at a much higher rate than residential property owners), it was determined that the City needed to identify a more equitable way to generate revenue. A number of options were discussed, but the City ultimately decided to adopt a Franchise Ordinance which would allow the City to charge public utility providers for the continued use and maintenance of City-owned Right of Way. The fees are charged to utility providers, who pass the fee along to their account holders. While many may feel that Franchise Fees are simply another form of taxation, this alternate method of revenue collection will impact more than just tax payers.
Those that are typically exempt from property taxes but still benefit from essential City services, such as renters, non-profits, and schools will all pay the same fees. Connexus, CenterPoint and Xcel Energy will start billing for these fees in October - all revenues collected by the City from these fees will be dedicated to the General Fund and will help offset the cost of providing various services to our community.
If you have any questions or would like more information regarding a specific area covered by the Finance Department, please contact City Hall at 763-251-2974.