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2010 budget means lower taxes for most

The Rosemount City Council approved its 2010 budget Tuesday night. And for most of Rosemount's residents that means less in taxes for the year.

The city will ask taxpayers for $284,000 less than it did in 2009. But how that gets split up isn't equal, as some residents found out Tuesday night.

Before the council approved the budget it held a public hearing to take comments on the proposed budget. As was the case last year Paul Scapari was the first one up to the podium.

Despite reports that taxes would go down in 2010, Scapari's went up and he wasn't happy about it. He complained to the council that his rates had gone up while his neighbors' had gone down. The handful of other residents that attended the meeting had similar complaints.

"How can my house value go down but my taxes go up?" asked Scapari.

Scapari, who lives on Dodd Boulevard, asked the council why his property value hadn't dropped similar to his neighbors and why he didn't experience similar tax reductions due to the value drops.

The answer he got didn't satisfy him. The county determines property values and the city council was forced to defer him to the county with his questions.

While some of the council members expressed empathy for Scapari's situation, there wasn't much they could do to help, which for Scapari was frustrating.

Finance director Jeff May said he would review Scapari's situation.

"I don't understand why that can't explain this to me," said Scapari after the meeting.

Scapari said he approached the county last year and was told there was nothing he could do to change the value of his home.

An individual taxpayer's costs vary based on city, school or other taxes. Changing property values will cause shifts in taxes as well.

Homeowners in Rosemount with a house worth near the median $230,900 can expect city's share of their taxes to go down by $80. That number can change depending on the value of the property.

The city's tax picture has only gotten better since the council passed the preliminary budget in September. The council was able to knock off an extra $24,000 in spending.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said Rosemount is one of seven cities in the metro area that will see a decrease in taxes.

The city set its spending for 2010 at $17,059,244. Johnson explained to the council that number is the ceiling of what the city can spend.

"Most years we spend a little less," he said.

In 2009 the city set is spending at $17,288,034. May said he believes actual spending will come in under that by 2 to 5 percent.

Going forward mayor Bill Droste said the city will have to be steadfast in its budgeting process. With the state struggling to balance its budget Droste said he anticipates difficult years ahead.

"We will have significant challenges before us," said Droste.

May said the city will submit the budget to the county later this month.