by JOE BOWEN
Sun POST Newspapers
Robbinsdale City Council unanimously approved two motions related to its 2014 tax levy on Sept. 3. The first motion approved general fund and debt service net property tax levy of $4.9 million. The second unanimous motion approved a Housing and Redevelopment Authority levy of $155,000.
According to Finance Director Larry Jacobson, the general fund levy will ultimately be 2.05 percent less than last year and is well short of the $5.27 million maximum set by the state.
Council member Bill Blongian pointed out that the proposed levy is almost at its lowest point since 2008.
The housing and redevelopment levy, which is based on the city’s total market value of $842 million, Jacobson said, is $6,000 higher than last year and is the maximum allowed by the state. Funds from that levy will be used by the Robbinsdale Economic Development Authority, which has previously used levy money to facilitate the relocation of the Travail Kitchen and the construction of the Broadway Court apartments and commercial building, among other endeavors.
All three levies can be lowered before the end of December, Jacobson said, but not raised.
The city will also receive $1.6 million in local government aid from the state, an increase of $448,000 over last year.
The aid increase is largely due to the use of a new formula which considers a number of variables, including tax capacity of the city, housing rates and the average tax rate throughout the state, according to City Manager Marcia Glick.
The additional funds will be used, in part, to decrease the total property tax burden on Robbinsdale citizens, council members said. They will also be used to fund a variety of potential projects, including updating the city website to include online registration for recreation programs, extra money for boulevard tree replacements in the wake of several summer storms and a construction project on Country Road 9.
Councilman Dan Rogan said, “the ability for us to drop our levy by two percent and do some of the things we talked about, like paying for the County Road 9 levy with these dollars, and absorbing some of the costs of the increased cost of government without having to raise our property taxes, is directly related to the fact that the legislature gave us more money in LGA and our fiscal disparities.”
The “fiscal disparities” Rogan mentioned includes revenue that result from the way in which the state distributes commercial property tax throughout the metro area, Glick explained in a phone interview.
“A good chunk of everybody’s property taxes get put in a pool, and that gets redistributed back to the cities,” she said.
Because Robbinsdale does not have a large commercial base, but does have affordable housing and a large hospital, the city ends up receiving more in redistributed property tax than it contributed, Glick said, which contributed to the 2 decrease in the levy.
In all, the three levies will comprise roughly 56 percent of the city’s revenue. Twenty-one percent of projected revenue will be made up of intergovernmental funds such as the local government assistance money. The remainder will come from a variety of sources, such as fees for service, fines and forfeitures and license and permit fees.
The city will hold a “Truth in Taxation” hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Robbinsdale City Hall to give the public an opportunity to discuss the levy with council members.
Contact Joe Bowen at email@example.com