City holds annual Truth in Taxation Hearing; 2020 proposed tax levy set at $7.15 million

Published 6:30 am Friday, December 6, 2019

The City of Austin held its annual Truth in Taxation hearing Wednesday evening. City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert provided details about the proposed 2020 tax levy and operating budget to members of the general public as required under Minnesota Statute.

When coming up with the budget, the Austin City Council aimed to provide the same level of services in 2020 as in 2019 and to keep the tax levy increase to about four percent, according to Dankert.

City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert

The city’s 2020 proposed tax levy is $7,150,000, a $277,000, or 4.03 percent, increase from the 2019 tax levy of $6,873,000. The tax levy is funded by property taxes; property values are determined by the county tax assessor’s office. A 4.03 percent increase in the tax levy would result in an average increase of $16 next year for a home valued at $100,000.

The increase for 2020 comes from the city planning for the further implementation of the Compensation and Classification study, modifications to some departmental budgets and settling bargaining unit contracts that will not been settled by Dec. 31, 2019.

In 2019, for every dollar in taxes paid by citizens of Austin, 41 percent went to the city, 37 percent went to the county, 20 percent went to the school district and two percent went to other expenses. Dankert said he did not anticipate those numbers changing in 2020.

The majority of the tax levy (71 percent) will go towards the city’s General Fund, while 15 percent will go towards the Capital Projects Fund and 14 percent towards the Library Fund.

The tax levy is only part of the proposed revenue sources for 2020. The largest source is intergovernmental revenue, including Local Government Aid, which Dankert said would be increasing in 2020.

Intergovernmental revenue will account for $9,873,599 in 2020. Other sources of revenue include:

  • Charges for Services – $485,632
  • Licenses and Permits – $630,560
  • Fines and Forfeits – $166,100
  • Tax Increment Funds – $308,643
  • Port Authority – $982,065
  • Enterprise Funds – $6,798,899
  • Internal Service Funds – $5,121,661
  • Miscellaneous – $3,519,643
  • Other Taxes – $909,000

Proposed expenditures for 2020 are $35,945,802 and include:

  • General Government (includes mayor and council, city administration and various city departments) – $2,141,288
  • Public Safety (includes police, fire, building inspection, rental housing inspection and emergency management) – $7,271,274
  • Streets and Highways (includes streets, highways, engineering, highway lighting and airport) – $3,740,517
  • Parks and Recreation (includes administration, municipal pool, parks maintenance, forestry, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, downtown flowers, Riverside and Packer Arenas and community rec center) – $3,114,490
  • Economic Development – $268,338
  • Capital Outlay/Contingency – $2,175,900
  • Library – $1,207,731
  • Recreation Programs – $98,996
  • Fire PERA – $60,000
  • Tax Increment Funds – $308,643
  • Capital Improvements – $2,656,000
  • Enterprise Funds (primarily waste water treatment plant expenses) – $7,780,964
  • Internal Service Funds (includes Central Garage, M.I.S. Replacement Fund, Fire Fleet Fund and Risk Management Fund)  – $5,121,661

Members of the public raised no objections during the hearing.

The council will vote to adopt the tax levy and budget amounts for the payable 2020 year during its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 16. Should it pass, the city will certify the amount to Mower County and the State of Minnesota.

For a more detailed look at the 2020 proposed tax levy and operating budget, visit www.ci.austin.mn.us/Administration/2020TaxLevy/Budget.pdf.