St. Paul City Council approves maximum tax levy with 15.3 percent increase

The highest tax levy for 2023 was established by the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday at $199.9 million, plus an additional $2.36 million for the St. Paul Port Authority.

Before it is completed in December, the tax levy, or the total amount of property taxes the city may collect citywide, can still be decreased, but it cannot increase. The maximum tax levy of $199.9 million, which the mayor recommended in August, would be a 15.3% increase over the current year and the biggest tax rise in St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s five years in office.

A change in how street sweeping, lighting, and seal coating will be compensated for accounts for around half of the increase. The city is transferring individual assessments to the municipal general budget, which is backed by taxpayers, in response to legal pressure. In other words, following the current assessments, such fees won’t exist and will be included in property taxes.

The city’s eight low- to moderate-income neighborhoods would likely see an aggregate increase in property taxes of 12 to 20 percent the following year. Residents who are affected are being urged by city and county authorities to investigate state homestead returns, renter refunds, and special refunds. Visit tinyurl.com/HomesteadMN to learn more.

Property taxes on a house in St. Paul with a median value of $261,800 in 2023 would probably go up by $231 the following year.

Although they have largely backed the mayor’s efforts to hire more than 50 new employees—from basic life-support medic cadets in the St. Paul Fire Department to carpenters and plumbers within St. Paul Parks and Recreation—members of the city council have pledged to look for ways to reduce the levy by Dec. 7.

Workers from union-affiliated organizations complained about being constrained by inadequate personnel and antiquated equipment at the fire stations, the Como Zoo, and St. Paul Public Works during a public budget hearing on Tuesday at the Como Park Pavilion.

Female employees have been harassed, followed inside and outside libraries, kissed inappropriately, and other unsafe working conditions, according to library workers who attended the hearing. High turnover, a lack of staff, and a general lack of communication with library management have also contributed to these unsafe working conditions. This month, just after the mayor’s administration committed to spending $1.5 million on security upgrades, library director Catherine Penkert quit.

In her new role as head of the city’s library board, council member Rebecca Noecker said on Wednesday, “There are very serious issues that have been presented to us about staffing, about safety,” and she pledged to search for more funding to enhance those areas.

Councilwoman Jane Prince said that, for the time being, she would approve the maximum levy with concerns.

In communities that I serve, there have been some of the largest tax hikes this year, according to Prince. Property prices have increased, but earnings haven’t necessarily. These hikes are just unsustainable for low-income households.

On Wednesday, the council set the maximum levy at $157.24 million for municipal operations, $21.65 million for debt payment, $21 million for the system of public libraries in St. Paul, and an extra $2.36 million for the St. Paul Port Authority.

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