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City of St. Michael Expected to Consider Slight Increase in Levy Tonight

The city will consider and take action on its 2013 budget in its last meeting of the year.

 

The St. Michael City Council will consider a property tax levy increase of about three percent Tuesday night at its regular meeting when the proposed 2013 city budget will be considered.

The council meeting is set for 7 p.m. at St. Michael City Hall.

Depending on changes in a property's market value, and the statewide changes in homestead exclusions, homeowners will see either an increase or decrease in their city property taxes that could be more or less than the 2.99 percent levy increase, said Steve Bot, city administrator, engineer and public works director, in a prepared statement.

"The recent state property tax law changes with homestead exclusions have shifted more of the tax burden to agricultural and commercial/industrial properties," he wrote.

The increase is intended to cover increases to infrastructure, public safety and equipment replacement. Additionally, paying off debt service payments for Highway 241, the one-way pair, and the Town Center civic building are the primary parts of the infrastructure payments.

"The city had originally planned to fund these projects with revenues from new development," Bot stated. "However, with the recession, there has been minimal new development, so the city has had to make up the difference with general levy."

The change of exactly 2.99 percent, if approved, reflects an increase of $151,025 to the total budget levy. The total budget levy is proposed at $5,196,344.

"Even with this increase, St. Michael is projected to remain the city with the lowest overall city tax rate (not including school district and county, but including special levies) in Wright County and one of the lowest in the state for its population," stated Bot. "This is a fact the city takes great pride in, while still providing a high level of customer service to our residents and businesses."

Even though budgets have recently been challenging, he added, the city has made it a point to not cut back on services.

"When comparing the value of the services the city provides (police, fire, streets, snowplowing, parks, senior center, library, trails/sidewalks, etc.) to other communities based on both services and taxes, many believe the City of St. Michael provides a good value to our taxpayers," he said.

At last week's truth in taxation hearing at the council meeting, a handful of residents asked the council members why the increase was necessary.

St. Michael resident Layne Roschen asked what the expected levy increases will be in the next several years.

Bot explained that despite the extended depressed economy, the city is in good overall financial shape and has avoided a "kick the can down the road" strategy by "making bond payments on time and not restructuring them far into the future as so many other cities have done."

Roschen added that since income of Americans on average has gone down between four and five percent in previous years, and individuals have had to make cuts in their budget, so should the city. He asked the city to see what can be cut from the budget, and said he doesn't think the budget will be any better in 2013.

St. Michael resident Eric Boone agreed with Roschen and said the city needs to start charging user fees to cover the costs for services that are not equally beneficial to all residents, such as the senior center, ice arena and parks and fields. He said it's not fair for all residents to pay for them if they aren't using them.

Jill Schwarz of St. Michael also said if something does not benefit everyone in the community, "it should be on the chopping block."

The city's budget and other financial information is available on the city's website, or in hard copy at City Hall. Residents can also call Bot at 763-416-7931 for more information.

JoJo December 20, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Jumping to your info on the senior center, I have to mention that most seniors are on fixed income, often a minimal amount compared to expenses. (I have a mom age 65 and am learning just how small that is!) Thus, I have conflict in my mind about the charging of a monthly or annual fee for usage. One solution would be to do what Buffalo (I think it was Buffalo) does...open the senior center up to other groups to use as well, for a small fee. Seniors could have all morning, homeschool groups can have study and social time some afternoons, other groups as well? If the space were to be shared and not exclusively "senior" it would be a much easier amount to handle if charging a membership fee or some other way to cut down the subsidized amount.
JoJo December 20, 2012 at 05:43 AM
That idea is quite libertarian of you...and as I get older I am becoming more fond of libertarian ideas. However, I'd not want to add any more taxes to gas purchases for the simple concern that the state will no doubt allow special interest groups to grab a large percentage of it to bring the big shiny subsidy-gobbling choochoo to St Michael ;)
JoJo December 20, 2012 at 05:49 AM
JT, you are correct, and it's shameful. Absolutely shameful. Especially now that people consider receiving a subsidy as a bonus, or even something they deserve. We have GOT to untagle this disgusting mess of gov't subsidies, and Eric is obviously trying to think outside the box (as I am beginning to, thanks to these conversations!). The worst thing is that people now vote for the candidate who promises them the most goodies/money/subsidies. We're a country of moochers, and I can't believe people aren't ashamed of their greediness with Gov't money as we speed toward the "fiscal cliff."
JoJo December 20, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Tom and Eric, I have to say THANK YOU for bringing concrete information (numbers) to the conversation. It's so stupid to waste our time bickering when a little research and a calculator can shed light and rid the conversation of accusations and blame. Please, both of you, save those numbers and show up at the next city council meeting! :)
THE REST OF THE STORY December 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Haiti is looking for Tea Party Patriots, I hear they have Low Taxes, you should look at moving there! You may want to take up residency in a cave If you don't want to pay taxes here in the beautiful City of St Michael!

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