SAUK RAPIDS -- As 2018 gets going, Sauk Rapids is sitting in a strong financial position, despite some debt leftover from major projects over the past decade.

Mayor Kurt Hunstiger gave his annual "State of the City" speech Thursday, expressing excitement and confidence in the immediate future of Sauk Rapids.

The city currently has $13.9-million in debt. Down from $26.5-million in 2007. The city hopes to pay off another $8-million in the next three years. Hunstiger says they have this option since a lot of their major projects are already done.

"We've got a lot of our big projects done. We got federal funding for the bridge, the county helped us with 2nd, we're done with any major projects right now. Other than what's happening at South Side Park, but that's been downsized."

Hunstiger says the other reason -- from a day to day standpoint -- they're in this spot is, they try to be as smart and frugal as possible when it comes to spending the taxpayers' money.

"We try to cash flow. We don't spend money we don't have, and we won't bond for it [any projects] if we don't have to."

Since the city has kept within their budget and spent money wisely, Hunstiger says he's looking to lower their tax rates further. They're already the 2nd lowest in the St. Cloud Metro.

"Financially, I hope our tax rates as this debt gets paid down, hopefully, our rates can go down. That's what we're trying to do."

Some of the major points from the city's 2017 included coming in $197,000 under budget, allowing the city to save money for the future. Policies like this have allowed the city to build a $2-million building fund, for maintenance and upgrade projects.

In the next year, the city is looking at replacing the fire department's aging aerial truck, which has to undergo an inspection every year now to ensure they can use it. They'll also start looking into possibly equipping their police officers with body cameras.

They'll also be finishing up switching all city-owned lights to LEDs.

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