Sharing Marshall’s financial picture

To the editor:

We are writing to share some information about Marshall’s financial picture.

Marshall has a low property tax rate when compared with other cities in Greater Minnesota. We ranked 19th of 24 cities in a sample collected from municipal assessors across the state. Our rate compares favorably with both similarly-sized regional centers, and smaller communities in Southwest Minnesota which have very small tax bases.

The current total debt load for both city government and the Marshall Municipal Utilities is $72.1 million. About 65 percent of these bonds were issued to pay for:

• Water and electric improvements, including placing our electric lines underground. Repayment is built into the water and electrical rates, so light users pay less than heavy users.

• Sewer and water treatment upgrades. Again, repayment is through the rates charged for the service.

• Construction and operation of the Red Baron Arena and Expo, and the MERIT Center. These bonds are being repaid by the sales tax levies that the voters approved by 61-39 percent in 2012.

About 15 percent of the city’s property tax levy is applied each year to debt retirement. This means 45 percent of the current debt will be paid off in five years, and 90 percent in 10 years.

Since bonding requires that a city maintains certain levels of cash reserves, the city of Marshall has over $60 million in cash assets. Marshall’s bonding policy means we can meet our community’s growing needs while managing our financial obligations safely and responsibly. The Wall Street bond houses agree: They have given Marshall a AA bond rating, the highest level available for a city of our size.

John DeCramer, Craig Schafer,

David Sturrock

Marshall City Council