West St. Paul finalizes 2017 budget and levy

A new single-family home development will straddle the border between Inver Grove Heights and Eagan. The Inver Grove Heights side of the development is on the right side of the map near Highway 149.

The West St. Paul City Council finalized its numbers for the 2017 budget and levy. 

Matt Fulton, city manager, said a preliminary budget was submitted to Dakota County in September that would have meant an 8.05 percent increase in the levy from 2016.

Joan Carlson, finance director, said when city employees were putting the budget together they tried to advance the city council’s strategic priorities, which include “economic and community vitality, safe and vibrant community, connected and thriving neighborhoods, innovative and governance excellence, and infrastructure and community facilities.” 

The 2017 certified preliminary levy was for $13,143,542.

“Since September, we worked on several options to that or adjustments to that,” Carlson said. 

Carlson presented two options to the council in December. The major factors in the 2017 budget increases were: adding two police officers, whose salaries would be partially funded with a federal grant; two additional park maintenance employees for Harmon Park; employee wage and benefit increases, and contractual services both increases and decreases.

The approved 2017 levy option was for $12,935,220, a 6.33 percent increase from 2016. The general fund budget for this option is $9,435,000. This option incorporates cost cuts that were requested by Mayor Dave Meisinger. These cuts included a $2,000 reduction to the mayor and council training budget and a $20,000 reduction to the marketing and communication budget for the proposed 2017 community survey.

Carlson said the average home value in 2017 will be $185,000. This puts estimated city property tax for the average home at $1,180, approximately a $50 increase from 2016.

West St. Paul has a program called “Open Gov.”

“This puts our financial data on our website for you and for residents to be able to look at and take a deeper look into our finances,” Carlson said. 

During the public hearing on the budget, resident Camille Goll said that awhile ago on the quarterly water bill the city used to give a senior citizen discount. This was discontinued, and Goll asked the council if there was any chance of getting that discount back.

Carlson said she thinks at that time, there was a study done that showed just because someone was a senior that didn’t mean they used less water. 

Goll said the discount used to be around 10 percent and she was asking the council if it would consider any discount amount. 

Meisinger said this is something a future council could look into. 

Council member Dick Vitelli said he was around when the discount was stopped.

“The discussion surrounded the fact that, and this may not be [Goll’s] case, many seniors can afford to pay the full bill and then some,” Vitelli said. 

A motion to approve the property-tax levy and budget option passed unanimously.


Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com


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