2015 tax levy, budget approved in Oakdale

Rebounding home values cause tax increase

County’s levy up nearly 3.5 percent

Most homeowners in Oakdale and across Washington County will receive a higher tax bill in the mail soon thanks to climbing property values. 

The county’s $90.7 million levy for 2015 will have a typical homeowner paying about $43 more in the county’s portion of property taxes next year. That amount is based on a countywide median home value of $232,600. 

The county board will use the 3.45 percent levy increase to help fund increased operating expenditures caused by the hiring of new employees to bring staff numbers up to pre-recession levels. County employees will also get raises for the first time in four years, and the county is making technology upgrades.

Oakdale approves small levy increase

The Oakdale City Council approved its property-tax levy and budget at its Dec. 9 council meeting.

This year’s nearly $11.8 million budget represents a 1.31 percent increase of $152,955 over 2014.

The $10,270,522 tax levy is a 1.8 percent, or $181,817 increase over 2014.

“The city council worked really hard to find places to cut to keep it under the level of inflation,” finance director Suzanne Warren said during her presentation at the council meeting.

Warren provided an example of what a typical Oakdale homeowner would pay in property taxes next year.  The owner of a single-family home valued at $192,700 (slightly below the city’s average) could expect to pay $2,177.19 in property taxes next year. The city would collect 31 percent or $675.68 of that amount. Property taxes account for 68 percent of the city’s total revenue.

She said the city cut $550,000 from its initial debt levy to help keep the overall tax levy down.

Warren said the slight levy increase is due, in large part, to the hiring of two full-time firefighters/EMT’s.

“I think you will find -- if you look across the country -- many [communities] have a similar problem,” she explained. “It’s tough with busy schedules and the amount of training involved to get volunteers.”

Warren said the fire department strives for a four-minute response time after an emergency call and at times struggles to meet that goal with limited staff.

Home values rebounding after recession

Warren said the amount owed in city taxes next year will vary significantly from one homeowner to another.  But, generally speaking, the more a property’s value goes up the more taxes are owed. Home values shot up across the county this year as the pace of recovery following the great recession sped up. Also, she said, as a home’s value increases, the homestead exemption credit goes down-increasing the tax bill. Warren said declining commercial property values in Oakdale this year also had an impact on homeowners by shifting more of the tax burden on them.

Oakdale’s 2015 median taxable market value for a single-family home is $198,300, which is a 14.3 percent, or a $24,900 increase over 2014. In comparison, Washington County’s median value for 2015 is $236,600  -- a 15.5 percent, or $31,700 increase over 2014.

Home prices countywide peaked in 2008. The median value in Oakdale that year was $225,500, while the county’s median reached $255,000.

Median home prices fell for the next five years, bottoming out in 2013 at $195,000 countywide and $159,200 in Oakdale.  Most homeowners in Washington County have seen modest gains in home value for the past two years.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

 

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