St. Paul City Council hosts public hearing Tuesday on 2023 budget, 15.3% levy hike

The St. Paul City Council will hold an open-ended public meeting on Tuesday at the Como Lakeside Pavilion to solicit input from the general public about the city’s financial goals.

At 5:30 p.m., a public discussion starts. The proposed tax levy and the 2023 city budget, both of which were unveiled last month by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, are out for public comment. Two minutes will be allotted for each speaker to speak.

When the city council conducted a similar budget hearing the previous year, the majority of speakers were municipal workers who voiced concerns about labor laws and COVID immunization requirements. Discussions this year may be sparked by a potential double-digit rise to the tax levy, which represents the total of all taxes collected citywide. Since their property prices are growing quickly and are finally restoring market value lost during the crisis of 2007 to 2009, some of the city’s poorest communities are most likely to have the highest tax consequences.

Carter announced a $782 million budget plan last month that mainly depends on a 15.3% rise in the city’s tax collection. That would be the biggest tax boost since 2018, the biggest tax hike in the previous 10 years, and the biggest tax hike under President Carter.

The municipal council will decide on the maximum tax charge on Wednesday. By the time it wins final council approval in December, the amount may have decreased, but it is now fixed and cannot increase.

A change in how street maintenance is paid for—from individual assessments on properties to the taxpayer-supported general fund—represents almost half of the levy hike.

For property owners, this implies that costs for maintenance done on streets beyond the current year will no longer be charged.

In a similar manner to how it charges property owners for entire road reconstructions, the city is also changing how it assesses for mill and overlay road work and will probably utilize an assessor to assist determine new billing rates. On Wednesday, representatives from St. Paul Public Works will provide the budget committee of the city council with an update.

Even yet, the average homeowner in St. Paul ($261,800 in 2023) may expect to pay $231 more in property taxes the following year.

Apartment building owners are already flooding the city with requests for partial rent control exemptions at a rate of around one request every other day, if not daily, since they are constrained in how much they can raise rates as a result of St. Paul’s new rent control policy. That rate can increase as taxes rise.

As a result of the change in how street maintenance is paid for, churches, colleges, significant NGOs, and other tax-exempt organizations would no longer bear a portion of the expense. Instead, residential, commercial, and industrial property owners would share the cost.

The First Baptist Church of St. Paul has long claimed in court that it and other tax-exempt properties are unjustly penalized for road upkeep expenses that benefit the whole city. A Ramsey County District Court judge concurred in May, ruling that neither the church nor the other 45 plaintiffs received any specific advantage.

Legal pressure about the roadway repair program has previously resulted in significant levy implications. When Chris Coleman’s tenure as mayor of St. Paul came to an end at the end of 2017, the city council authorized a 24 percent tax levy increase that was mostly fueled by shifting a large portion of the right-of-way roadway maintenance program from assessments to property taxes.

In St. Paul, proposed tax levy modifications have varied from double-digit hikes to nothing at all throughout the years. Carter proposed raising the municipal tax rate by 6.9% in 2021. His proposed budget for 2020 does not include a charge hike. A 5.85 percent tax levy increase was narrowly approved by the municipal council in 2019. The city council lowered Carter’s requested 11.5 percent raise to 10.5 percent at the conclusion of his first year in office as mayor in 2018.

The address of the Como Lakeside Pavilion is 1360 N. Lexington Pkwy. You may get more details about the hearing on Tuesday online at tinyurl.com/ComoHearing2022.

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