Medina gets ready to OK 2013 budget

The public will get the chance to learn about and comment on the city of Medina’s proposed 2013 General Fund budget and property tax levy at the regular Medina City Council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Medina City Hall.

The City Council either will approve the budget that night or decide to wait until Tuesday, Dec. 18. All cities must certify their final 2013 budgets and property tax levies to Hennepin County by the end of the year. The final budget and property tax levies can be equal to or lower than the preliminary General Fund budget and tax levy that was approved in September — not higher.

December is the time for citizens to comment on the 2013 General Fund budget and property tax levy for the city of Medina as a whole. This past spring Medina and Hennepin County worked with citizens who wanted to protest assessed valuations for their specific property for taxes payable in 2013.

In spring 2014, Medina again will host its Board of Adjustments and Appeals for citizens wanting to protest assessed valuations for their properties for taxes payable in 2014.

In short, now is the time for taxpayers to speak up if they think Medina is spending too much, or not enough, on roads, police protection, outer space exploration or whatever.

Medina’s proposed General Fund budget for 2013 amounts to $3,776,425, down by exactly $10,000 from the 2012 budget. Going back to 2007, actual General Fund expenditures were $3,710,462. So over five years, Medina’s General Fund expenditures have gone up by $65,963, assuming 2013 expenditures are exactly as predicted.

Medina’s property tax levy is by far the number one source of revenue for financing the General Fund budget. The city’s proposed General Fund levy for 2013 is $2,726,118, up by $106,783 from 2012. Taxpayers also will see a levy for debt service on their property tax bills. With debt service the proposed 2013 property tax levy is $3,248,806, up by $313,103 from 2012 (10.7 percent).

So Medina’s General Fund expenditures have crept up slightly, but the property tax levy has seen a larger increase. What has happened?

A big part of the answer is that Medina did not sell any bonds for public facility and water improvements that would need debt service in 2012. In 2013 Medina expects to add $297,721 to its other $224,967 debt service payments. This is due to a shift of debt from the water fund to the General Fund and the sale of bonds to help Medina pay for refurbishing the Clam Corps office/warehouse building for use by the public works and police departments.

Medina’s debt service levy for 2013 will be $36,000 lower than original estimates, said Finance Director Joe Rigdon. City taxpayers will benefit from Medina receiving historic  low interest rates on the sale of bonds for the public works/police project.

What will 2013 property taxes pay for? Public Safety, which includes both police and fire protection, heads the list of proposed expenditures at $2,006,260, down slightly from $2,023,730 spent in 2012. Proposed general government expenditures rank second at $979,175, down from expenditures of $982,125 in 2012. Proposed public works expenditures are $563,549, up slightly from the $556,015 spent in 2012.

Medina property taxes will be 23 percent of a taxpayer’s 2013 property tax bill, if the City Council approves the final budget and tax levy as proposed, said Finance Director Rigdon. Hennepin County will account for 46 percent of the property tax bill and local school districts 23 percent. Some watershed districts and other local jurisdictions also levy property taxes.

Medina’s budget advisors are expecting a five percent decrease in market value for properties in 2013. A property valued at $570,000 is expected to have a $114 property tax increase (8.6 percent) for Medina’s portion of the property tax bill.

So anyone wanting to cut their Medina property taxes could ask the city of Medina to cut its budget for public safety, general government or public works. What services would taxpayers want to give up?