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Mendota Heights City Council Approves Preliminary Budget, Levy

A preliminary levy and budget were approved Sept. 6.

The set a preliminary tax levy Tuesday night that increases by .43 percent over last year’s collection. The city’s overall budget for 2012 decreases spending by .97 percent, to approximately $10.4 million.

The levy increases by $26,822 in part to make up for an increase in general fund spending of 1.9 percent.

The council appeared particularly pleased with the results.

“It’s hard to understand how messed up so many cities are in our state that they can’t run the city without completely messing up the finances,” said council member Jack Vitelli at the meeting. “… And I look at our situation and I don’t get it. This is simple stuff. And I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”

Mayor Sandra Krebsbach agreed, saying the city’s present and past councils have always been hands-on in inspecting, asking questions and understanding the budget.

What’s Decreasing

Finance Director Kristen Schabacker said that a number of special levies for debt such as park bonds will decrease in 2012.

Schabacker estimated that residential property values in the city will decline on average by about six percent.

A $20,000 line item planned for a city-wide survey was cut during the budget planning process. “The survey is kind of on hold,” said Schabacker. “The council had different ideas about what they were going to do.”

A special levy from last year to make up for lost aid was also eliminated because that program is no longer in operation, and the city can expect to receive the full amount of their general fund levy, said Schabacker.

One unknown is how a shift from the market value homestead credits to a new program called market value homestead exclusion will be calculated.

What’s Increasing

Planned increases include $40,389 in spending for possible radio replacements with the . The legal and contingency levy was initially going to be cut by $20,000, but will be maintained at the 2011 level of $40,000.   

An additional $5,000 has been budgeted for the 25th anniversary of the Parks Celebration scheduled for next year.

City employees will receive a 2 percent raise, and a 5 percent increase in health care benefits.

“(We are) pleased to do a small increase, and certainly isn’t anything extravagant,” said Krebsbach. “But we have been able to do that and maintain our level of service.”

What’s Next

Residents will receive proposed property tax statements in November with their estimated tax burden including city, county, school district and special taxing districts.

A public hearing on the levy and budget is scheduled for Dec. 6. The levy needs to be finalized by Dec. 28.

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