Coon Rapids levy increasing due to park bond

Coon Rapids’ citywide property tax levy for 2014 will be higher than this year – because of the park bond referendum that passed Nov. 5.

The Coon Rapids City Council Dec. 3 approved the final tax levy and budget for 2014 following a public hearing at which no one spoke.

When the preliminary citywide levy was approved back in September it was under the 2013 total.

But with passage of the park bond referendum at the November election, the city plans to sell the bonds for the park projects in 2014 while interest rates remain low, according to Sharon Legg, finance director.

A partial debt service payment on the park bonds is included in the 2014 budget, $540,916, Legg said.

That means the total city levy for 2014 will be $22.875 million compared with $22.426 million this year.

However, the general fund levy, which pays for the general operating costs of the city, will be less than 2013 at $18.097 million compared with $18.302 million.

City finances were given a boost this year with an infusion of state Local Government Aid for the first time since 2004. The city will receive $934,354.

Without the addition of the park bond issue debt service, the city’s share of the property taxes on six single-family benchmark homes that it has been tracking for decades would have declined. With the additional debt service, one single-family home will see the city tax share go up.

But the market value on that property increased 3.7 percent, while market values on the other benchmark homes declined, did not change or rose no more than 1 percent, according to figures Legg presented at the budget hearing.

Following are the city tax impacts, including the park bond referendum, on the six single-family as well three commercial/industrial benchmark properties.

• Single-family home valued dropping in value from $83,000 to $80,700 from 2013 to 2014, the city tax will decrease from $260 to $240 (park bond $7).

• Single-family home maintaining its $129,700 value from 2013 to 2014, the city tax drops from $508 to $493 ($15 park bond).

• Single-family home declining in value from $165,700 to $164,200 from 2013 to 2014, the city tax goes down from $700 to $672 ($21 park bond).

• Single-family home increasing in value from $180,400 in 2013 to $187,000 in 2014, the city tax rises from $778 to $789 ($24 park bond).

• Single-family home increasing in value from $243,100 to $245,600 in 2014, the city tax declines from $1,112 to $1,092 ($33 park bond).

• Single-family home dropping in value from $342,300 in 2013 to $333,500 in 2014, the city tax will go down from $1,640 to $1,546 ($47 park bond).

• Commercial/industrial property dropping in value from $264,000 to $253,700, the city tax declines from $1,343 to $1,303 ($40 park bond).

• Commercial/industrial property dropping in value from $1,264,500 to $1,203,200, the city tax goes down from $7,264 to $7,028 ($215 park bond).

• Commercial/industrial property increasing in value 3 percent from $9,308,700 to $9,586,900, the city tax share increases from $54,884 to $57,573 ($1,759 park bond).

General fund expenditures for 2014 are up 2.9 from this year – $26,718,613 to $27,498,966.

Public safety, which is budgeted at $13,439,308, and maintenance services, which has a $6,821,983 budget, are where the city spends the largest percentage of its general fund dollars.

General fund revenues are projected to increase 3.5 percent over 2013 from $26,798,855 to $27,730,216 with the property tax levy at $18,097,916, down 1.1 percent from 2013, accounting for the lion’s share of that amount.

Budget highlights outlined by Legg in her presentation at the public hearing include:

• Elimination of state sales tax on city purchases will save $135,000.

• Replacement of seven police squad cards and purchase of a fire truck for $585,000 using equipment certificates to be paid back over 10 years.

• Accelerated street reconstruction program.

• The budget allocates $430,680 for parks and trails.

• One full-time position added with the recycling coordinator going from part-time to full-time. The recycling center will be open five days a week in 2014 compared with the present two days.

• Health insurance premiums for city employees will increase 13 percent, while the PERA increase for police/fire goes from 14.4 percent to 15.3 percent.

• The ice center debt service of $990,878 is part of the tax levy.

Mayor Tim Howe thanked staff for all their hard work preparing the budget and responding to the challenges when the council directed cuts to be made from the initial budget and tax levy proposal for the preliminary budget and tax levy that was approved in September.

“It was not an easy thing to do,” Howe said. “People gave up important things to them.”

“This is a good budget which positions us for the future and makes investments in the community.”

The council Dec. 3 also approved a 2014 tax levy of $700,000 for the Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority. That’s $28,796 less than the 2013 levy.

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

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