Lower taxes, more spending in Anoka for 2013

The Anoka City Council held a public hearing on its 2013 levy and budget Monday. There were no comments from the public on the city’s financial plan for next year. The next move will be to officially adopt the budget and levy at the council’s next meeting on Dec. 17.

The city will collect just over $5.8 million in property taxes for 2013, down $43,000 from the previous year, according to Finance Director Lori Yager.

“That impacts the amount of taxes all of the property owners will pay in 2013,” she said. “Most residents will see a decrease in their city taxes.”

This is the fourth year in a row the city has not increased its levy.

On average, homeowners will see a reduction of 7 percent, or $153 a year, based on the average home in Anoka valued at $151,000.

According to Yager, the city’s tax capacity is down 9 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2000, as a result of falling property values.

Residential property values decreased an average of 9 percent in Anoka, with commercial values typically dropping 10 percent.

But spending is up for 2013 by over 7 percent. The general fund budget is $10.7 million.

Yager said 2013 will be a busy year with many projects scheduled.

The city will use some reserve funds next year to balance the budget. The city will take in $64.5 million in revenues, but has $65.1 million in budgeted expenses, Yager said. The $600,000 gap will come from the city’s fund balance.

The council made some last minute budget changes after a work session discussion in late November.

The budget now includes $465,000 earmarked for the purchase of land from the state of Minnesota at Seventh Avenue and Garfield Street, behind the old park and ride site.

The city has its eye on the property as a site for relocating its electrical utility and parks and public works operations from the current location near the Northstar station, freeing up that property for private development.

The budget also includes $89,000 for the purchase of equipment that would allow for the city to charge for parking at the municipal ramp at the corner of Second Avenue and Jackson Street. The council discussed charging for parking at the ramp Friday and Saturday evenings.

City Manager Tim Cruikshank said the concept of charging for parking will be discussed with the city’s Parking Advisory Board as well as the Anoka Business and Landowners Association.

All city buildings will also be outfitted with WiFi at a cost of $17,000.

Next year will also bring the return of some capital purchases, including three new police squad cars as well as some public works equipment.

“In the past we have deferred purchasing capital equipment but it has got to the point where we really need to,” said Yager.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com