St. Paul council reaches deal on Mayor Carter’s budget, with double-digit tax levy increase

December 5, 2018

The typical St. Paul homeowner will pay $67 more in property taxes in 2019, under a deal reached by the City Council and Mayor Melvin Carter to fund next years budget.

When the St. Paul City Council approved a maximum 11.5 percent property tax levy increase in September, council members pledged to get that number down before approving the 2019 budget. They kept their word the levy increase next year will be 10.46 percent, or $14.7 million in extra tax revenue.

Mayor Melvin Carter said at a news conference Wednesday that the budget reflects the priorities of St. Paul leaders and residents.

What weve heard loud and clear is that we all share a big vision for St. Paul, a big vision for our future, and this budget helps us to realize this vision, Carter said.

Though the levy increase will be lower than initially proposed, the budget will still cover new programs and services that Carter requested in his budget proposal in August, including an affordable housing trust fund, a new Office of Financial Empowerment and the citys first-ever dedicated bikeway funding.

There are also new investments in public safety, including $785,000 for the police departments Mental Health Unit co-responder program and new police commanders and investigators.

Carter requested new police commanders for the sex crimes unit and downtown St. Paul, as well as investigators for the property crimes division. The councils budget goes further, promoting a total of nine officers to investigator and commander positions and backfilling the positions they vacate. The force will grow from 626 to 635 sworn officers, Carter said.

Every single major proposal that weve made is included in this budget, and that excites me, Carter said.

The levy is the amount of money that the city collects in taxes, not the amount that individual property owners pay. The levy rose 24 percent in 2018, in large part because the city shifted street maintenance costs from assessment bills to tax bills.

The 10.46 percent levy increase in 2019 reflects new tax capacity the city gained as property values rose this year, city officials said. The city also levies a tax through its Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which the council set at a maximum of nearly $4.5 million in September but was able to cut in half through cost savings within the HRA.

Property owners can appeal the assessed value of their property in March, when Ramsey County sends out valuation notices. The state has a property tax refund program, which reimburses property owners whose taxes have risen significantly from one year to the next.

The City Council will hold its annual Truth in Taxation hearing Wednesday evening at City Hall, and will vote on the budget Dec. 12.

Emma Nelson 612-673-4509

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