Fire station drives budget increase in Mendota Heights

The Mendota Heights City Council joined other cities, including Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul, in adopting a preliminary budget and tax levy. 

The preliminary levy numbers set Sept. 17, which include nearly a 9 percent property tax increase driven by early costs associated with a fire station remodel, are the maximum the city can finalize in December. The city can still work on lowering those numbers between now and then, but it cannot exceed them. 

Kristen Schabacker, finance director, said the proposed 2018 property tax levy is around $9.4 million, a 9.82 percent increase over fiscal year 2018.

The 2019 budget for all funds is just over $15 million. 

Schabacker said the taxable market value in the city for 2019 is $2 billion, an increase of 5.94 percent from 2018. 

The median home value in Mendota Heights for 2019 is $380,320, up from $361,780. Schabacker said the city portion of taxes for that median value home will increase to a total of $1,537 for 2019, an increase of $125 over this year.

 

The big ticket item

Schabacker said that the city portion of property taxes will increase 8.84 percent with the current budget proposal, with much of the the bump going towards paying for the remodel of the city’s fire station, which is getting a complete overhaul.

Had the fire station project not been happening, Schabacker said the property tax increase would have been a “modest” 2.58 percent. The biggest cost included in the 2019 levy is $519,932 for the remodel. 

She said the budget also includes an increase of the city’s firefighter pension contribution to $18,000.

Schabacker said the capital items discussed at budget workshops are not included in the levy, but will be paid for out of the general fund reserves.

Those items include $15,000 for police rifle replacement, $40,000 for police body cameras and squad cameras, new vehicles, software updates and new mowers.

Council member Ultan Duggan said the council should consider a larger increase in the IT budget, as it becomes an area of greater need for the city.

The council must certify the final budget and levy with the county by Dec. 28.

 

– Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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