The final levy for 2022 was approved by the Forest Lake City Council on Monday, Dec. 13, in the amount of $12,278,700. That amount represents a 7.26% increase from last year’s levy of $11,447,799, and a 1.74% decrease from the preliminary levy set in September of $12,530,771. 

The council must approve a maximum levy amount in September and can adjust it downward before the final budget approval in December.

Current estimates of home values indicate that a homeowner of a $300,000 value home will see an increase from $1,114.04 to $1,185.95 in the city portion of their taxes. For a home worth $150,000, that amount will increase from $496.23 to $516.86, and for a home worth $250,00, that amount will increase from $928.24 to $962.92. A $400,000 home will increase from $1,576.05 to $1,632.01.

This is the second largest percent levy increase since 2015 for the city, with 2021-2022’s increase less than a tenth of a percent less than from 2016-2017. However, the city’s tax rate is estimated to be at 40.923%, an increase of nearly 0.3% from the 2021, but almost a full percentage point below 2018’s at 41.871%. 

A tax levy is the amount of the city’s budget covered by taxes by its property owners. This year, 70.8% of that amount will go toward the city’s general fund, which includes most of the city’s labor costs, materials, and supplies. Other portions (3.7% or less) go toward capital equipment, parks and trails, street improvements, debt service (funding of the city’s debt), and economic development.

During the city’s meeting on Monday, Nov. 8, the council informally accepted City Administrator Patrick Casey’s plan to change the funding mechanism for the capital equipment budget, which will be funded by a series of bonding certificates, beginning in 2022. That funding mechanism change means there is an increase planned to expand the budget for the city’s Parks, Trails and Lakes Commission, members of which were fraught over inadequate funding, expressed their concerns last fall and encouraged council members to consider an increase. 

The capital equipment bond certificates will address the need to replace major pieces of equipment, such as fire trucks, squad cars, snow plow trucks, a street sweeper, and construction equipment. 

The Parks, Trails and Lakes Commission will receive $450,000 in 2022, 2025, and 2028, the same years the city will bond for the capital equipment. In each of the years between, the Parks, Trails and Lakes Commission will receive $50,000. 

Street paving and repairs receive 1.6% of the levy, which the city has indicated was not enough and is looking further into how to adequately fund street improvements. 

“I think we’ve done a lot of work on this one this year,” Casey said about the most recent budget. “We’ve gone a long way in making progress as we go forward in all the issues we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Hannah Davis is the Area Editor at the Forest Lake Times. You can contact her at hannah.davis@ecm-inc.com or (763)233-0709

Load comments