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City's share of taxes will increase

The city of Rosemount’s 2015 budget is shaping up and come September the council will likely raise the 2015 tax levy by 1.95 percent.

The proposed levy increase means the city’s share of taxes will increase by $26 on a median value home. Even if the council was to have a zero percent increase, homeowners would likely see some increase in city taxes due to the impact of state fiscal disparities and market value exclusion formulas, said city administrator Dwight Johnson.

During an Aug. 26 work session, Johnson said the city is healthy financially and he feels the proposed budget is conservative but accomplishes the council’s goals.

Still, council members grappled with raising levy for a second year in a row. Council member Vanessa Demuth expressed disappointment that both years she’s been on the council they have had to raise the city’s share of taxes. However, she said when looking at the amenities the city has added and the underlying factors, she understood.

“I’m fine with it,” said Demuth.

Council member Jeff Weisensel also said he would have preferred to see no increase but felt the proposed budget was the best they were going to see for 2015.

Even with consecutive increases the city’s levy is still more than $140 lower than it was in 2008. At that time the city council made it a priority to decrease the city’s share of taxes.

Several things will impact the 2015 budget. The city has budgeted $15,000 for a new electronic crimes unit which will be housed at the Dakota County Sheriff’s Department.

The city also plans to increase firefighters’ training pay. Currently firefighters receive $10 per training whether the training lasts 30 minutes or eight hours. The city will increase training pay to $10 an hour. The additional pay is estimated to cost $28,900 per year.

Johnson said increasing firefighter training pay is necessary to help with department retention and is the right thing to do.

To adjust for the additional training pay in the 2015 budget, the firefighter pension benefit will increase less than originally planned. Pensions will get a $100 bump from $6,900 to $7,000 per year of service. By lowering the pension increase, the city will save $29,800.

During the workshop, Johnson recommended the council consider raising training pay this year as 11 new firefighters are coming on to the department. The council advised Johnson to come up with ways to pay for the pay boost out of the 2014 budget and bring it back to the council at a future meeting.

The city council will continue to review fire department funding annually. Johnson said the fire department leadership plans to develop a multi-year scenario relating to staffing, recruitment and retention strategies before the 2016 budget preparation begins.

One bright spot in this year’s budget was that the city’s health insurance premiums will decrease by 2.5 percent for 2015.

“This happens every once and a while but not very often,” said Johnson about the decrease.

Last year premiums rose by more than 10 percent and the city council accessed a surplus funds account that was assigned to mitigate such increases. The city used roughly $35,000 out of the fund to lessen the impact of the increase on the 2014 budget.

Johnson said the fund worked the way the council had planned and that the city should be able to restore the fund at the end of 2014 with either unused contingency funds or a general fund surplus.

Lastly, some employee turnover this year saved the city nearly $45,000 in salary and benefits.

The Rosemount City Council plans to approve the preliminary budget and levy at its Sept. 2 meeting. The documents are due to Dakota County by Sept. 30.

The council will approve the final budget sometime in December after holding a truth-in-taxation hearing.

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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