RIVER FALLS — The average homeowner won’t see an increase to the city portion of their property taxes for 2021 under a budget and levy unanimously approved by City Council on Nov. 10.

The flat levy is thanks to an expanded tax base from new construction in Pierce and St. Croix counties, which will offset a mill rate increase of 1.98%, according to a staff report. The approved levy also is more than a percentage point less than planned for a year ago, due in large part to pandemic-related cost savings that will carry over into 2021.

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The 2021 budget comes in at just over $40.6 million. Around 17% of that — or just under $7 million — will be paid by property taxes.

The core themes of the budget are future financial stability, long-term strategic growth and continued investment in infrastructure, according to a staff report.

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Infrastructure expenditures include $210,000 for the design phase of reconstructing South Wasson Lane. The $3.9 million project will be funded 80% by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Surface Transportation Program.

Though the city approved a flat levy for the average taxpayer, Tuesday’s vote only covers part of a homeowner’s total property tax bill. County government, the school district and Chippewa Valley Technical College also have levy authority.

The Nov. 10 meeting allotted time for public comment on the budget and levy, though no one from the community spoke.

In other news…

  • City Council voted to repeal two chapters in the Municipal Code pertaining to ambulance service, which will be outsourced to Allina Health EMS. All of the city's fulltime EMS staff have accepted offers to work for Allina. A "soft transition" started this month, with the full transition expected to take place Nov. 16. Allina is required to provide quarterly performance reports to city staff, which also will be shared with the council in 2021.
  • Council members approved an updated floodplain management ordinance to comply with new state and federal requirements following a recent Pierce County flood insurance study and updated rate maps. The only Pierce County floodplain boundary changes were near Spring Valley, and none in the city of River Falls, according to a staff report.