North St. Paul sets preliminary budget, tax levies

Property tax levy could increase by 15 percent


North St. Paul has set its preliminary property tax levy for 2018, and if it’s approved as is, residents could see a 15 percent increase in their property taxes. 

That means residents who own a median-valued home worth roughly $170,000 would pay about $5 more per month in property taxes. 

The preliminary general fund budget, property tax levy and debt levy, which were passed by the city council Sept. 19, had to be submitted to the state by Sept. 30 and represent the highest amount that can be passed at the city’s truth-in-taxation hearing in December — each amount can be lowered but can’t be raised.

With a 4-1 vote, the preliminary general fund budget was set at $7,076,200, about a two percent increase over last year’s budget; the preliminary property tax levy was set at $3,468,973 and the debt levy was set at $1,522,718.

The 15 percent change in the general property tax levy is driven by the planned reduction of money being transferred from the city’s Electric Fund to the General Fund. 

City Manager Jason Ziemer explained at the Sept. 19 meeting that last year the city reduced the amount of money transfered from the electric fund to the general fund by about $400,000. This year the reduction was $150,000 and next year it will reduced by $150,000 as well.

The budget also had a $288,176 increase in fixed costs such as insurance-rate changes and employee wage adjustments, but, according to city documents, expense reductions were made in other areas to offset those increases.

The largest expense in the city budget is the cost of having employees. 

“A city is generally a service-oriented business and so we do employ a number of people, and with that comes the cost associated with, you know, wages and benefits and those sorts of things that amount to 64 percent of the total budget,” Ziemer said, adding that this is normal compared to other cities. 

Property taxes make up about 49 percent of the city’s revenue, and Ziemer explained that because North St. Paul is a fully developed city, it is pretty difficult to generate that revenue from other sources.

However, North St. Paul is experiencing an increase in property tax values between 2017 and 2018, which helps keep city property taxes low.

“The city saw a significant jump in market values and taxing capacity this last year — significantly more so on the multi-family and the commercial front, which had been pretty much flat the last several years,” Ziemer said. 

Ziemer explained that in 2017 a home with a median value in North St. Paul is worth about $168,100, but will increase in value to be worth $172,800 in 2018.

“Because of those increases, that’s sort of helping to buffer that overall tax rate impact,” Ziemer said.

Council member Jan Walczak cast the dissenting vote regarding the budget and levies.

 

- Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com



 

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