The Robbinsdale City Council adopted plans for the 2020 budget at the Sept. 3 meeting. The proposed budget includes a 6% overall increase to the tax levy, which factors in needs for everyday city operations, existing debt and an additional HRA levy planned for the city’s economic development authority. This does not account for fiscal disparities, a metro-wide program that redistributes tax money from commercial-industrial rich municipalities to others with smaller tax bases.

The 2019 actual levy was $6,986,000, which includes a $194,000 HRA levy, and the 2020 levy is proposed to be $7,404,000, a $418,000 increase.

This year’s increase follows a 10.37% increase last year, and a 4.69% increase in 2018. However, after fiscal disparities were calculated, 2019’s total levy was 8.44% (the city received funds to offset tax burden), and 2018’s levy was 6.23% (money was taken from the city to offset tax burden). In 2020, it is estimated that the city will again receive money via the fiscal disparities policy, which will lower the proposed total levy increase from 6% to 5.35%.

Jeff Zuba, the city’s new finance director, presented the budget and levy information. Zuba took over the position after the retirement of Larry Jacobsen, the longtime director.

Changes in the general fund budget are attributed to a routine increase in employee compensation and the addition of new positions. These include the transition from the customer service/front counter employee from 20 to 40 hours per week; creation of a full-time officer and full-time evidence clerk at the Robbinsdale Police Department, the hire of a full-time IT employee; and the creation of a recreation facilities manager due to a title restructuring within the recreation department.

In total, the proposed 2020 general fund budget is $6,345,000, up 6.6% from the 2019 actual budget of $5,953,473.

Funding aids will total $194,600 from both local government aid and fiscal disparities.

Outstanding debt that will roll into 2020 includes five bonding packages for street improvement and reconstruction and $199,000 owed in equipment certificates. The total debt owed by the city is $847,900.

The city also plans to allocate $210,000 in reserve funds to compensate for growing staff needs.

Councilmember Dan Rogan reasoned that the increase from the 2020 proposed budget would give existing staff reasonable pay increases, and that funding aids from the state would knock out the cost of added staff time.

“I think this is a reasonable budget,” he said. “These are never easy to do, to pass on an increase. Unfortunately, the cost of government continues to go up, just like everywhere else, and this is needed.”

To view the preliminary budget information available at the Sept. 3 Robbinsdale City Council meeting, view the agenda packet at bit.ly/2lEBbOv.

The proposed budget is not final, nor will it be when it is approved in December. The proposed numbers represent the maximum tax levy that the city can set from this point forward. Before the final approvals, the general and enterprise fund budgets will be reviewed with all city departments in greater detail.

Truth-in-taxation valuation notices will be mailed to residents in November. Residents may present concerns or ask budget-related questions at a public hearing on Dec. 3 in the Robbinsdale City Council Chambers.

The final budget and levy will be approved by the council at the Dec. 17 meeting.

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