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.