ST. CLOUD - The first step in the process of creating a budget for St. Cloud in 2017 began already this (Monday) evening.  Mayor Dave Kleis presented his budget proposal to the city council.

He's proposing a budget of just over $68.4 million next year, that's down from the over $70.4 million for this year's budget.  He says that's due primarily to previous council action on restructuring things like the debt on the public library.

Kleis also noted the city has just a one percent increase in their health insurance costs for city employees.

The tax rate for property owners in the city will go down slightly in 2017.

Other items of note in the budget: Kleis plans to restructure some of the city offices and staff, which should result in cost savings and create better efficiencies.

Some of the capital expenses in 2017 include: three new squad cars, some new fire equipment, a new snow plow, and movable walls at Whitney.

Kleis also noted a tax bill that was approved by the State Legislature earlier this year, and then vetoed by the Governor, included $500,000 in additional Local Government Aid money for the city.  If there's a special session later this month, and that bill gets passed and signed by the Governor, the capital requests for 2018 will be moved up to 2017.

Kleis has planned a visual tour of the budget this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at city hall.  It will be a 90 minute bus tour.

The St. Cloud city council has to set the preliminary levy and budget next month, and then vote on the final levy and budget in December.