by Mike Knaak
The final numbers aren’t set yet, but St. Joseph residents could see a decrease in their property tax bills next year.
Finance Director Lori Bartlett updated City Council members on preparations for the 2021 city budget at the Sept. 8 meeting. The council needs to set a preliminary levy by Sept. 30.
Uncertainty over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as well as prospects for state aid could affect the budget, but Bartlett informed the council that “as of now, the state is not proposing a reduction in the 2021 LGA and in July certified the amount based on the current law.”
Preliminary calculations from the Stearns County Assessor’s Office indicates an 8 percent tax capacity increase in market values, which means the urban tax rate should decrease by 4 percent.
The 2021 budget includes staffing increases in the police and public works departments.
City staff also proposed adjusting pay for the mayor and City Council members after researching the pay in surrounding cities.
St. Joseph council members are paid $314.40 a month and the mayor is paid $524 a month plus a $35 stipend for attending meetings. St. Joseph is the only area city paying a stipend and city staff recommended dropping the stipend to simplify payroll processing.
The new pay structure proposes raising the mayor’s pay to $650 and the council members’ pay to $435 with no meeting stipend. Mayor salaries in nearby cities are $600 in Waite Park, $665 in Sauk Rapids and $675 in Sartell. Cold Spring currently pays its mayor $450 but a pay raise to $475 has been proposed.
Council members in area cities are paid $300 in Waite Park, $433.33 in Sartell and $475 in Sauk Rapids. Cold Spring has proposed raising council members’ pay from $300 to $325.
Changes in the council’s pay structure can only occur in election years and must be approved prior to the general election.
The council approved the pay changes.