The New Ulm City Council on Tuesday approved a proposed 19% increase of the city’s property tax levy for 2013. City Manager Brian Gramentz says that the $1-million proposed levy comes from leaving the budget relatively unchanged next year. The 19% is the maximum amount the council can now increase city property taxes, and that number will likely be reduced prior to the final adoption of the levy and budget in December. Council President Chuck Schmitz says that after several years of budget cuts, however, there’s not much left to trim. He says taxes may need to go up in order to maintain what the city currently has. Possible budget cuts discussed included scheduled street work, city employee layoffs, closing park and rec facilities, and reduced hours for the public library. Public hearings on the budget will be held on December 4th and 11th. In other business Tuesday, the council approved a $350,000 loan for SpecSys Inc to expand their operations at the former Caterpillar plant and create new jobs. The revolving loan fund money is specifically-designated for such uses. The council also discussed renovating the Marktplatz Mall sign in the City Hall parking lot, with a decision coming at a future meeting. A rezoning request to build an apartment complex across from Hy-Vee was approved as well.