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City notes: Rosemount's budget is in good shape for 2013

In this time of uncertainty over what's going to happen with the federal budget, it's good to report that in city government for Rosemount, there's no risk of a fiscal cliff.

The city council will vote next week on the budgets needed to run the city and set tax levies for 2013. The proposal will hold Rosemount's portion of the property tax bill steady for most homeowners. In fact, for the median-valued home, taxes are projected to fall by $3. Since 2008, the city tax bill on the median home has fallen by 20 percent.

The city has been able to cut some expenses. We lowered the debt by paying off some bonds early. A couple of staff retirements allowed us to reconfigure job duties and cut costs.

Other items will be more expensive in 2013 than they were this year. We are increasing pay in the fire department to hold onto experienced firefighters and recruit more personnel. Labor contracts call for compensation increases next year, and health insurance premiums are higher. We're also restoring some cuts made previously in park maintenance.

We are also budgeting for the cost of new amenities for the community. New ball fields will open at UMore Park, requiring more maintenance spending. We hope to open a center to serve senior citizens, and that will require resources to operate.

We also continue to invest in new technology to save money down the road and to improve services to the public - for instance, by shifting to online billing for our water utility and for some building permits that the city issues.

The city council is working to balance the demands for service in a community that is beginning to grow at a faster rate than the last few years. That same community includes families that have been pinched by the slow economy of the last several years.

We see that in the decline in property values, expressed in the tax base. That's gone down for the fourth year in a row. Even so, we've managed to reduce the bill for most homes and keep services at an acceptable level.

The city council will open the floor for public comment at its meeting that starts Tuesday night, Dec. 4, at 7:30, and then vote on the budget. And not too many weeks after that, work begins on the 2014 budget. That work will continue to follow the council's direction to find ways to make city government more efficient, and to provide the services needed for a top-flight community.