by TaLeiza Calloway
As 2013 preliminary budget numbers reflect an increase, residents could see a hike in the city’s tax rate.
Elected officials are proposing about a 4.1-percent increase in the tax rate. The tax rate could go from 50.47 to 54.58, said the city’s finance director, Lori Bartlett.
“St. Joseph’s tax rate has been pretty level,” she said. “With inflation and market values and what we need to operate, a slight increase was acceptable to the council.”
The city’s 2013 preliminary budget estimates a 1.3-percent decrease in property values. The impact of the increased city tax on a $150,000 home is estimated to be a $51.91 annual increase or an increase of about $4.33 per month, Bartlett said. The real impact won’t be seen until November when tax statements are received from Stearns County.
The St. Joseph City Council on Sept. 6 approved a higher preliminary budget and tax levy for 2013 than this year in an effort to maintain city services and get delayed projects back on schedule.
The 2013 preliminary general fund budget is about $2.42 million. This reflects an increase of about 7.8 percent from this year, Bartlett said.
The 2012 budget was about $2.25 million, about 13.6 percent less than 2011.
The increase stems from the city reinstating previous reductions. Examples include the addition of a three-fourth time staff person versus a half-time staff person and the addition of a full-time police officer who will begin halfway through the year. Some capital funding was also added in for street-maintenance projects, such as seal-coating and crack-filling.
City officials approved a preliminary tax levy of about $1.77 million, an increase of about 6.75 percent from this year’s levy. The 2012 levy was about $1.66 million, a decrease of about 7 percent from 2011.
“The levy increase is what we needed to cover the general-fund budget increase,” Bartlett said.
A final budget and levy will be considered in December by the council. That budget can be reduced from the preliminary-budget amount, but it cannot be increased once a preliminary budget is approved. Council members will hold a budget hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.