The Rush City Council on Dec. 10 certified the final 2013 property-tax levy, reflecting a lower tax burden than projected in the fall.
Presenting the final levy and budget was financial consultant Kay Mattson, who broke down the numbers and explained the factors that will impact local taxpayers and the city portion of their next year’s property-tax bills. Except for mayor-elect Dan Dahlberg, no one from the public attended the meeting.
The council adopted a $438,343 tax levy, which the county will collect from city taxpayers to help pay for city services. A portion of it will fund the Economic Development Authority (EDA) — established to market the community’s economic resources to expand the tax base beyond single family residential.
Mattson noted the 2013 levy is $9,669 less than the preliminary levy that was certified to the county auditor last fall. To put it another way, the tax statements that residents have received reflect a certified levy that is actually $9,669 more than the final levy.
Either way you look at it, this will result in a lower tax amount that residents will pay to the city, she summed up.
The 2013 tax levy is comprised of the general fund levy, $227,343; EDA levy, $16,500; and special levies including an ECE equipment certificate ($24,000), 2009 fire department equipment certificate ($25,000), 2002 general obligation bond issue ($22,500), PFA loan ($100,000) and 2007 general obligation improvement bonds ($23,000).
The 2012 levy was certified at $430,196.
On next year’s budget, Mattson said general fund revenues total $1,185,691 — consisting of $227,343 in general property taxes and $958,348 in intergovernmental revenue, charges for services (cost of airplane fuel increased), licenses and permits and other sources.
Meantime, the general fund pays for all city services including general government at $333,546; public safety, $455,355; public works, $190,173; culture and recreation (pool, parks, library), $66,543; and other areas such as airport and contingency funds
Overall, the 2013 budget represents a $29,797 increase over the 2012 budget.
As a reminder, Mattson noted the meeting for taxpayers to appeal or discuss property valuations is held in the spring.
Market Value Homestead Credit
In light of the financial impact, Mattson said that for payable 2012, the state Legislature repealed the Market Value Homestead Credit Reimbursement. This was a reduction in the amount of taxes due by a homeowner, as the state paid this credit.
The credit, subtracted from the initial tax amount owed, affected each homeowner independently. This credit was phased out at $418,778.
Further, she continued, the credit was replaced with a Market Value Exclusion, resulting in a reduction of the homestead value that is subject to tax. Yet it also reduced the tax capacity value, which is based on the values of all taxable properties within the city. This phased out at $418,778, as well.
Mattson noted the tax base will decrease, and the tax rate will increase even when the levy is not increased. The new system shifts taxes among properties in each community, with property types including commercial, industrial, apartments, non-homestead and higher valued homes paying a larger share of tax.
Homes valued, after exclusion, at around $118,809 and lower should see at least a slight decrease in their taxes, said Mattson
The exclusion’s effect will vary from community to community, depending on a number of factors including the make-up of a community’s tax base and the local tax rate.
In other news, the council:
• Learned the city received a $1,000 grant for upgrading, by narrow band, its weather warning sirens. The funds, made possible through an Emergency Management grant within HSEM, were originally awarded to Chisago County Emergency Management.
• Reviewed, with no action, the proposed water tank maintenance agreement, aquatic center trust fund options, mutual aid agreement with Grantsburg and ambulance license transfer agreement. The council expects to revisit these issues in the near future.
• Approved five businesses in the city to hold 2013 cigarette licenses, contingent on the city receiving proper documentation.
• Discussed some work that is still needed at the new St. Croix River Education District (SCRED) office building in town.
• Agreed to close city hall all day on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Chuckles for Chi-Chis Comedy Night is set for Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Chucker’s Bowl and Lounge.
The next city council meeting has been moved to a new date and time: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 4:30 p.m.