The cities of Long Lake, Orono, Maple Plain each approved their 2020 preliminary levies during recent city council meetings.

Preliminary levies are not final levies - cities have until the end of the year to discuss and make any changes.

The city of Long Lake approved the adoption of their preliminary 2020 payable levy with a 4-1 vote during their Sept. 17 meeting.

Long Lake council members also approved to establish Dec. 3 as the Truth in Taxation public meeting to discuss the levy.

The preliminary levy states Long Lake will not receive any Local Government Aid (LGA). According to city staff, LGA can be very beneficial to the city; however, the city has not received any LGA in approximately three years.

The license and permit revenue is expected to remain flat while 2020 building permit revenues are expected to stay consistent with high potential for new development. Another 2020 budget factor includes employee headcount, salary, benefits and cost of insurance premiums. Other factors include a planned public works director salary step increase and a 3 percent salary move for other staff, as well as an increase in one full-time position. Staff also reported a 15 percent increase in employee health insurance premiums, a 1.9 percent increase in employee dental insurance premiums , a 4 percent increase in worker’s compensation insurance premiums and 0 percent increase in liability insurance premiums.

The city reported they estimate 2018-19 market value changed about 2.64 percent, or $7.7 million. The 2020 recommended levy includes a $1,013,030 operating levy and a $105,556 debt service levy, which translates to a 5.07 percent increase from 2019.

The gross tax capacity increased from $161,318 from $3,202,092 to $3,363,410.

“The increase of $54,006 accompanied by a 5.07 percent increase in gross tax capacity results in a 0 percent increase of the local city tax rate for 2020,” staff reported.

Council member Deirdre Kvale voted not to approve the preliminary levy because she said she will not raise taxes.

The Long Lake Oct. 15 council meeting was also rescheduled for Oct. 22.

The City of Orono approved to adopt their 2020 Preliminary Tax Levy and general fund during their Sept. 23 council meeting.

According to Finance Director/City Treasurer Ron Olson, the three components that make up the tax levy including the general fund operating budget, the pavement management levy and debt service of the city’s outstanding bonds.

Orono’s levy totals $6,007,450 and breaks down to $4,679,000 in the general operating fund, $617,450 in pavement management and $711,000 in debt services.

Orono’s 2020 levy is increasing by $372,000, or 6.6 percent, the general fund levy is increasing by 6.8 percent, the debt service levy will remain the same and the pavement management levy is increasing by $73,000.

“$80,000 of the increase of the General Fund is to cover an accounting change for routine street maintenance, which has been moved from the pavement management fund to the general fund,” according to the report.

According to Olson, the city’s tax levy has continued to decrease over the last four years, with minor increases as seen fit by the council. Olson adds that homeowners would see a slight property tax increase in 2020. An example he shared showed a $250,000 house with no property increase or decrease would see a $6.38 annual increase and a $2 million house would see a $64 annual increase.

The City of Maple Plain approved their preliminary 2020 payable levy during their Sept. 23 council meeting.

According to Maple Plain City Administrator Bobby Schoen, the 2020 city levy totals $1,466,509, a $665 or 0.05 percent increase from 2019. The general fund would see a 0.03 percent decrease from $1,235,700 to $1,236,367; however the total increase comes from Maple Plain’s debt levy.

Schoen adds the city has 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018 general obligation bonds, which are primarily for street reconstruction projects and are taxable bonds.

“Our debt is actually going up. It’s a minimal amount, $998,” Schoen said to council members.

Full 2020 preliminary levy reports and general fund reports can be found on each city website for further viewing.

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