The Woodbury property tax levy could increase by up to 6% in 2020, city officials said at a Sept. 10 workshop meeting.
The purpose of the nearly six-hour meeting was to give Woodbury City Council members the chance to hear from city staff about proposed 2020 budget items, ask questions and, ultimately, decide how to move forward. Adoption of the preliminary levy is planned for the Sept. 25 council meeting.
The 2020 budget will then come up as a discussion item at the Dec. 11 council meeting and will be finalized and voted on by council members.
Before finalizing the budget, the council can vote to decrease the proposed levy, but it cannot be increased.
Here are five important takeaways from the city's preliminary 2020 budget:
1. The proposed property tax levy, 6%, is up from the 4.8% increase approved for 2019. It's also higher than the 15-year average annual increase of 4.5%.
The main reason for this increase would be a new $500,000 Parks and Trails Replacement Special Revenue Fund. With aging parks and trail systems, the city wants to create a separate pot of money that would be devoted to their replacement and upkeep going forward. About half of this fund would come from expiring debt levies.
Without the proposed parks and trails replacement fund, the proposed levy increase would have been about 4.6%, the city said.
2. Residents with a property at the city’s median home value of $312,600 could expect about a $30 tax increase.
This estimate assumes a 4.7% increase in a property's estimated market value. Property taxes make up 70% of the city's general fund, planned to total $37.6 million in 2020.
3. The city plans to spend $102.5 million in 2020, a $10 million increase from the 2019 approved budget.
This total includes the general fund and other city funds, as well as the new Parks and Trails Replacement Special Revenue Fund, plus two other capital project funds: the Municipal State Aid Roadway Construction and TIF District 13.
The MSA Roadway Construction project would direct $19.2 million to the reconstruction of 4.4 miles of streets in 2020. The TIF District 13 project would put $108,000 toward Quarry Ridge Senior Housing.
These three funds would be created — and separated out from the larger Capital Improvement Plan — to create more transparency about where particular funds are going, City Administrator Clint Gridley said at the workshop meeting.
Other budget drivers cited by the city include employee wages and benefits, providing services to a growing population, the East Metro Training Facility (HERO Center), which is currently under construction, and the increasing cost of battling the emerald ash borer.
4. Water, sewer, stormwater and irrigation rates would increase.
- The city water rate would increase to $1.40 per 1,000 gallons, up $0.05 from 2019.
- The sanitary sewer rate would increase to $28.12 per quarter, up $1.08 from 2019.
- The stormwater rate would increase to $19.88 per quarter, up $0.58 from 2019.
- The irrigation rate would increase to $2.95 per 1,000 gallons, up $0.21 from 2019. This would be the fourth increase in a five-year plan.
5. Ambulance and street lighting rates would stay the same.
Street lighting rates have remained static at $6.60 per quarter for a single-family home since 2010, when they were increased from $6.10, finance director Tim Johnson said in an email. The rate is part of an agreement with Xcel Energy wherein the city pays lighting costs upfront, Johnson said.