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City's share of property taxes will go down

Rosemount's share of residents' property will go down for the second year in a row. The city council approved the city's preliminary budget Tuesday night and for many it means good news.

The approved preliminary budget reduces the tax burden by $64 for a resident in a median value home. The reduction is in addition to the $77 decrease adopted for 2010. The estimated median home value for Rosemount is $212,000.

Each year, the city council must approve a preliminary budget and tax levy by Sept. 15. The council can reduce the levy after the preliminary approval but cannot raise it.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said the principal reasons for the decrease are declining home values, significant reductions in city debt for the second straight year, a citywide review and prioritization of the levels of service and ongoing improvements in efficiency.

The council started its budget discussion a month early this year to try and find ways to maintain or reduce the burden on residents. Johnson said the council went through an exercise to see where services could be cut to save money. The exercise led to $90,000 worth of cuts which include cutting out taking in stray cats, cutting back on the amount of herbicide and pesticide it uses on city turf, reducing the number of newsletters and brochures that go out and other items.

The council also voted earlier this year to cut a staff person from the community development department. Building inspector Todd Sutter lost his job in June due to the cuts. The cut will save the city more than $40,000.

The council justified the cut because the department's workload has been low for the last couple of years due to the slowdown in housing market.

The city changed its liability insurance to higher deductible plan. Over a number of years, the city has accumulated a balance of about $550,000 in its insurance fund. The fund provided an opportunity to restructure the city's liability insurance with a high-deductible plan. The change will save the city more than $30,000 a year.

While the city was able to save in some areas, it took some hits as well. Health insurance costs will increase by 18 percent for 2011. A 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums had been assumed but the bid came back much higher. The city is seeking other health insurance bids, but did not receive them before the preliminary budget and levy approval on Tuesday. So, the approved preliminary budget reflects the larger increase.

In his staff memo Johnson called the proposed budget "appropriately conservative for the current economic situation," but said it makes it possible to be ready for economic recovery when it occurs.

The council approved a resolution stating that $16,295,976 will be needed for the general

operating fund, the three CIP funds, the insurance fund, the port authority fund and the enterprise funds. The special levies for bonded indebtedness, including $143,654 for the market value-based referendum levy for the fire station and the armory project, total $398,568.

The council has determined that incomes, fund transfers and anticipated aids will total $5,732,093. In the end the council approved its preliminary levy at $10,818,797, which will be certified by the Dakota County Auditor.

The council set a Truth in Taxation public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in council chambers.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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