Stillwater residents can expect an increase in their city property taxes next year, after the city council approved a preliminary budget and tax levy Sept. 3.

The preliminary 2019 property tax levy was set at about $14.7 million, up about 7.67% from 2019. Under state law, the levy can be lowered but not raised prior to adoption of a final levy in December.

The city’s general fund tax levy was set at $10,647,178, with the debt service levy set at $4,022,126.

For taxes due in 2020, the median-value home in Stillwater is valued at $289,800 and would see its city taxes increase by approximately $84.77 next year, for a city tax bill of about $1,476.29.

This scenario assumes a 6.5% increase in the market value of the property. Homeowners’ actual taxes will vary depending on how much their individual property values rose or fell.

In its initial budget estimates, city staff created the budget on the assumption that the city’s total tax capacity increase would be 7%, understanding it could increase or decrease once the county’s tax assessor would provides updated information. The actual total tax capacity for the city is an increase of 8.3% from 2019. This increase reflects an increase in the total value of the taxable property in the city. This increase also lowers the city’s proposed tax rate from 53.77% to 52.588%. To simplify, there is more property to tax therefore each property’s portion of tax decreases.

The decrease in the tax rate puts Stillwater in line with the city’s tax rate last seen in 2011.

The preliminary general fund budget was set at about $12.4 million. Other funds come to the city through non-tax sources and contribute to the overall budget for city services, including the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center Fund, Library Fund, Parks Fund and Lodging Tax. The city’s total budget for 2019 is $27.844,381.

City administrator Tom McCarty told the council during its Sept. 3 budget workshop that some portions of the budget would need to be updated as the city reaches the end of the year. With another quarter left of 2019, the city is currently finishing an operational review of the public works department. McCarty told the council that in the city’s strategic plan, the police department is scheduled to have an operational review in 2020. With the upcoming retirement of Police Chief John Gannaway in early 2020, the council directed city staff to move onto the next department in the schedule and to work with the new police chief in 2020 to review the department’s operational structure.

The city’s mandatory Truth in Taxation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Contact Alicia Lebens at alicia.lebens@ecm-inc.com

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