Coon Rapids tax levy increases 4.5 percent

The Coon Rapids City Council approved a 2013 property tax levy Dec. 4 that is 4.5 percent higher than 2012.

The Coon Rapids City Council plans to spend $49,373,954 from all funds in 2013. This graphic shows where the money will go. Source: city of Coon Rapids

The Coon Rapids City Council plans to spend $49,373,954 from all funds in 2013. This graphic shows where the money will go. Source: city of Coon Rapids

But no one complained at the public hearing that preceded the council’s action.

In fact, the only speaker, Pete Anderson, a Coon Rapids resident for 31 years, praised the city for the good job it does in keeping taxes “within reason,” he said.

According to Anderson, he pays $150 a month for his television and Internet, but only $52 a month in property taxes for all city services.

“I love it here,” Anderson said.

The approved general fund levy is $18,302,200 with a capital projects levy of $1,990,800, debt service levy of $1,146,900 and ice arena bond debt levy of $986,678 for a total citywide levy of $22,426,578.

For all funds, this is an increase of $957,225 over the citywide 2012 levy of $21,469,353, while the proposed general fund levy is proposed to jump $463,144 from $17,839,056, according to Finance Director Sharon Legg.

Where the revenues for the city of Coon Rapids’ 2013 total budget of $53,709,982 are derived. Close to half will come from property taxes, which will amount to $23,276,578, with charges for services totaling $17,208,440. Source: city of Coon Rapids

In her budget/levy presentation to the council, Legg said the levy increase is needed to “continue the highest possible levels” of existing services.

But with taxable market values dropping an average 13 percent, the impact of the city’s budget on six benchmark residential homes that the city has tracked for several decades showed the city’s share going down for half of them.

Indeed, in figures provided by Legg, overall taxes from all jurisdictions payable in 2013 dropped on five of the six residential properties; only the highest value home would be paying more.

• On a home declining in value from $109,900 to $83,000 (24.5 percent), the city’s tax share will dip from $354 to $259, while the overall tax will drop from $1,240.90 to $901,43, or 27.4 percent.

• On a home dropping in value from $147,200 to $129,700 (11.9 percent), the city’s tax share will dip from $528 to $508 and the overall tax will decrease from $1,805.67 to $1,675.12 or 7.2 percent.

• On a home declining in value from $180,000 to $165,700 (7.9 percent), the city’s tax share will increase from $681 to $699, but the overall tax will decline from $2,288.46 to $2,272.34, .7 percent.

• On a home dropping in value from $203,500 to $180,400 (11.4 percent), the city’s tax share will drop from $791 to $777 and the overall tax will decline from $2,659.48 to $2,515.60, 5.4 percent.

• On a home declining in value from $270,600 to $243,100 (10.2 percent), the city’s tax share will jump from $1,104 to $1,111, but the overall tax will drop from $3,376.17 to $3,553.88, 3.3 percent.

• On a home declining in value from $358,200 to $342,300 (4.4 percent), the city’s tax share will go up from $1,513 to $1,638, while the overall tax will increase from $5,004.26 to $5,198.36, 3.9 percent.

For three benchmark commercial/industrial properties, the city’s tax share will rise on all three of them, but overall two of the three will see reductions.

• On a property declining in market value from $298,000 to $264,000 (11.4 percent), the city tax share will go up from $1,336 to $1,342, but the overall tax will drop from $9,999.73 to $9,362.19, or 6.4 percent.

• On a property valued decreasing in value from $1,421,000 to $1,264,500 (11 percent), the city tax goes up from $7,096 to $7,255, but the overall tax goes down from $52,670.99 to $50,179.48 or 4.7 percent.

• On a property declining in value from $9,556,700 to $9,308,700 (2.6 percent), the city tax jumps from $48,825 to $54,819, while the overall tax rises from $361,808.90 to $378,487.75 or 4.6 percent.

In preparing the 2013 budget, four significant principles were followed, according to Legg.

• Address core community responsibilities.

• Support the council’s long-range strategic vision.

• Recognize current economic conditions and prepare for future economic challenges.

• Maintain 45 percent fund balance to maintain cash flow while awaiting property tax payments in June and December.

Under the approved budget, general fund expenditures will be $26,574,678, which is 1.7 percent higher than the 2012 amended budget of $26,122,793, primarily due to an increase in personal services, according Legg.

Funds have been increased in the 2013 budget to begin to address potential pay increases as a result of a compensation study which was part of the 2012 budget and is now in progress to meet the challenges of being in compliance with state comparable worth regulations, Legg wrote in her budget message to council.

Revenues in the general fund are also anticipated to increase from an amended $26,135,736 in 2012 to $26,798,855 or 2.5 percent.

Highlights of the budget outlined by Legg at the public hearing include:

• Accelerating state aid street reconstruction, while maintaining continue current level of residential street reconstruction and continuing the seal coating and street overlay program.

• The budget has $100,000 for miscellaneous park improvements and $100,000 for trail development plus an additional $135,000 for ice center operations.

• Continuation of the neighborhood reinvestment program at its current level.

• No increase in the number of full-time employees, 226, from 2012, with one full-time position created and one eliminated.

• Increase in the capital equipment levy of $100,000 to pay for equipment certificates for a fire ladder truck purchased in 2012 as well as other required vehicle replacements.

Councilmember Bruce Sanders complimented staff on preparing what he described as a “reasonable budget” and understanding what the council wanted, he said.

The work of staff in “grasping where the council was coming from” has made the budget process easier, according to Mayor Tim Howe.

A few years ago, the council was dealing with the loss of local government aid from the state, necessitating lay-offs, Howe said.

“But now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and are in a position to move the city forward,” he said.

In a separate action, the council, sitting as the Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), approved a $728,796 levy for the authority.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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