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Maplewood keeps property tax levy steady
Most property owners will receive slight decrease in property taxes, partly due to bump in state aid
Legislative changes helped Maplewood hold down its tax levy for 2014, meaning most property owners will pay slightly less in city taxes next year.
The Maplewood City Council on Dec. 9 unanimously approved the budget with no increase in the 2014 property tax levy, down from the 2 percent jump planned in the preliminary levy set in September.
Maplewood did not receive local government aid in 2013. The estimated $530,000 allocated under the refreshed local government aid program left room in the budget to slash the previously proposed $370,570 property tax increase.
Even so, Finance Director Gayle Bauman said that the city doesn’t want “any reliance” on LGA, due to its rocky past with the state program. The money is going to cover debt payments, instead of operational costs, she said.
Adding to the relief for the city that’s shouldered steady declines in property values the past few years, the state enacted a new sales tax exemption for local governments. Staff estimates it will save Maplewood about $155,000.
Savings for the city helped remove some of the burden from Maplewood property owners. The total levy is nearly $18.5 million, the same as 2013, but most property owners will pay at least 3.8 percent less in city taxes next year.
Residents whose homes measured at the median value, $157,000, will pay $29 less in next year’s city taxes, totaling $678, according to staff.
Those with properties at nearly three times the median, or about $342,000, will pay about 4 percent less with a total of $1,700 in city taxes.
The median home value dropped from $160,700 last year, a number that has progressively decreased since 2010, when it hit $205,400. At that time, annual city taxes went up by about $60 to a total of $711.
The total budget exceeds $55.2 million.
The nearly $9.5 million set aside for capital improvements is three times the amount allocated last year. Projects include the planned fire station at the 3M campus, the police station expansion and the East Metro Public Safety Training Center.
“When reviewing the general fund, it appears we’re going to exceed our fund balance requirements in 2014,” Bauman said at the meeting. “[We] should have money to apply to the capital options we talked about.”
• $55.2 million total budget projected
• Operational costs increased by 1.7 percent, making up 60 percent or $33.2 million of the budget
• Capital improvements jumped nearly three times last year’s amount at 17 percent of the budget, totaling nearly $9.5 million.
• Debt service payments are up 18 percent, totaling about $12.5 million or 22.7 percent of the budget
Utility fees are expected to cost the average household about $2.69 — or 2.8 percent — more each quarter next year. The average total quarterly rate was $96.33 in 2013. Next year, it’s expected to hit $99.02 per quarter.
No members of the public spoke at the public hearing at the Dec. 9 council meeting.
Mayor Will Rossbach commended Bauman on her summary of the budget and levy, although few were in the audience to hear it.
“When it comes to giving a report that I and most people in the audience can understand, no one tops you,” he said.
Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7814 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also be found at twitter.com/KRobyNews.