Bigger budget, taxes somewhat steady in North St. Paul

The North St. Paul City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 17, unanimously approved the city’s 2014 budget, keeping steady the total amount property owners pay for day-to-day city operations.

“We’ve spent probably about seven or eight workshops on the budget,” Mayor Mike Kuehn said at the meeting. “It was a great process.”

The expected local tax rate went down slightly, and the average household will pay less in taxes in the coming year. In general, owners whose property values went up are expected to pay more in property taxes.

In 2014, the owner of a $184,900 property will pay $594 in city taxes. Of that amount, about $252 will go toward the police department and $73 to the street department for the year.

Those with properties at the average value -- $149,630 -- are expected to pay $541 in annual city taxes, according to city documents. That’s down from 2013, when the average was about $549.

The total tax levy, which includes the general operations levy and the debt service levy, increased by 1.8 percent -- or about $62,000 -- to nearly $3.44 million.

The budget jumped by about 10 percent to around $6.23 million. Public safety is allocated the largest share at $3.38 million. Public works is next in line with $946,350. Administration takes the third largest slice: $712,585.

Nearly 47 percent of the budget comes from taxes, and 27 percent is boosted by intergovernmental sources, including $1.36 million in local government aid from the state, according to city documents. The remaining $500,000 from the revised state program is set aside in the budget. It’s the city’s goal to decrease reliance on the historically unstable revenue source.

The Minnesota Legislature this year established a sales tax exemption for government entities, saving North St. Paul a total of more than $655,000. That amount includes the savings from the planned purchase of power and other items that were previously not taxed.

Staff changes in the budget:

• Absorb the economic development director’s responsibilities into the community development director position, currently held by Paul Ammerman.
• Add a city planner and an administrative assistant
• Hire a finance director, responsibilities of which were previously completed by a contractor
• Split the duties of the public works director and fire chief, both positions of Scott Duddeck
• Add an officer, and train another officer for SWAT

Other highlights include a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for non-union staff, an increased contribution to the Fire Relief Association, an upgrade of elections equipment and $50,000 set aside for a building at Casey Lake Park.

--Kaitlyn Roby

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