St. Michael proposes 2.99% levy increase

The St. Michael City Council will conduct the annual Truth in Taxation meeting at St. Michael City Hall (11800 Town Center Drive NE) Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed 2014 budget.

At that meeting, the public will be able to comment on the proposed 2014 budget and property tax levy. St. Michael is proposing a 2.99% city property tax levy increase for 2014 which amounts to a total increase of $155,375 to the total budget levy that is proposed at $5,351,719. Even with the increase, St. Michael is projected by the Wright County Auditor’s Tax Office to have the lowest city tax rate in Wright County (not including school district and county, but including special levies) which is one of the lowest in the state for its population.

City administrator/public works director/city engineer Steve Bot said, “This levy increase represents a balance of priorities by the council to keep city taxes as low as possible, while paying the city’s debt and funding necessary equipment replacement and building repair needs without borrowing. This helps avoid paying interest costs with tax dollars. None of the 2.99% increase is being targeted for general spending purposes (i.e. staffing, supplies, etc).”

According to Bot, the council has worked hard to avoid “kicking the can down the road” and not borrow more money to make payments towards existing infrastructure debt as many cities have done.

The proposed tax increase is split among the following three categories:

 

Infrastructure debt payments:

Due to the lack of sustained local economic growth in recent years, the city has had to raise taxes to pay debt service payments on many of the past infrastructure projects (Hwy. 241, One Way Pair, Town Center Civic Building, etc.).

 

Fire and public works equipment replacement:

There is a need to start replacing aging fire and public works equipment which have been put off in recent years as the city tried to keep taxes low while waiting for the economy to recover.

 

Building repairs:

The city needs to put significant money toward repairs of aging buildings. Most recently, the city learned it will need to fund its 1/3 ownership share to repair the insulation and dehumidification system at the STMA Ice Arena.

 

The city is also projected to receive $239,141 in Local Government Aid from the state in 2014. The council plans to use some of that money to pay off of the new fire rescue truck that was purchased in 2013 and the rest will be placed into capital equipment funds to help pay for future equipment replacement or building repairs.

Bot stated “The proposed 2014 budget represents the city’s continued commitment to provide a high level of service to our residents and businesses at the lowest possible cost.”

The budget and other financial information is available online at www.ci.st-michael.mn.us or in hard copy at city hall. Call Bot at (763) 416-7931 for more information.

-Compiled by Aaron Brom

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