Brooklyn Park’s City Council approved the city’s preliminary 2020 general fund budget at $54.3 million, an increase from the adopted $52.2 million budget for 2019.

The council approved the increase in a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Mark Mata dissenting.

The 2021 preliminary budget is estimated to be $56.2 million.

As part of the budget cycle, cities and other local government agencies adopt a preliminary budget and property tax levy, which establishes the highest rate at which the city may tax its residents and later adopt a final budget and levy, which can be lower than the preliminary but not higher.

The 2020 preliminary general levy is $44.6 million. The heritage fund levy is $1.7 million, the tax abatement levy is $690,000, and the debt service levy is $1 million.

For a median-valued home worth $247,800, which paid a monthly tax costs of $104.55 with the 2019 adopted levy, assuming the value of the home did not increase, city property taxes would decrease $4.33 based on the 2020 preliminary levy. If the home’s value increased 5%, the household would pay $1.45 more than the previous year. If the home’s value increased 10%, the household would see an increase of $7.24 monthly.

Median home values increased 8.4% for 2020.

The city’s general fund represents approximately 35% of budgeted expenditures, capital projects funds represent approximately 30% of expenditures, enterprise funds represent approximately 20% of expenditures, and internal service funds represent approximately 8% of expenditures. Economic development authority funds, special revenue funds, and debt service funds are all less than 5% of expenditures.

For the general fund, 75% of expenditures are related to personnel costs. Internal service charges are 16% of expenditures, and contractual services are 5%.

Cost drivers for the budget include cost of living salary increases, increases in fiscal disparities costs, a decrease in non-levy revenue and election expenses.

The general fund relies heavily on property taxes for revenue, with 83% coming from property taxes.

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said he was comfortable with voting to approve the preliminary budget and levy, as the final adopted levy would likely be lower as the city continues to move forward with the budget process. Residents should pay attention to the budget process and let the city know which services they consider to be important, he said.

Mata, who has historically opposed the city’s budgets and levies, again opposed the budget. He said the city needs to run more like a business and that he wanted to see a budget without an increase. City leadership from the top down needs to tell city staff members to decrease spending, he said.

Finance Director LaTonia Green said that the city has continued to make efforts to continually improve the city’s operations, and that a 0-percent increase budget would require the city to make some difficult decisions, as much of the budget increases are tied to personnel.

Councilmember Susan Pha said she was concerned about the city’s heritage fund, as it has been utilized to fund several city projects as of late.

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