Wyoming sets flat levy

Former township residents to pay full city tax rate

 

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

Wyoming city leaders on Dec. 3 set the 2014 levy at $3.9 million, the same amount as the 2013 levy. The levy is set in 2013, and the taxes are collected in 2014.

Final discussion and adjustment occurred during the council work session on Nov. 25. The entire council was present, and approval of the levy was unanimous.

Items that make up this total include the general fund ($3.61 million), bond indebtedness ($249,911), and the Economic Development Authority levy ($42,000).

City Administrator Craig Mattson said Wyoming officials and staff approach budgeting based on priorities of service. Uncontrollable variables like fuel prices and weather can affect budgets and require cutting in other areas.

Some residents questioned why their taxes increased when the levy is the same. Mattson explained that the Chisago County Auditor determines tax bills and the formulas are complicated.

Polaris and Xccent will begin paying more commercial taxes into city coffers in 2017. Mattson and Mayor Eric Peterson estimate this amount will be about $250,000 to $300,000 a year.

Mattson said the city cannot count on local government aid, which may be taken away by the state Legislature. Peterson said that Wyoming’s costs are down compared to other cities.

Some former township residents wanted explanations about rising costs in some departments. With the increase in size of the city, Mattson said, it costs more for almost every service.

Under the terms of the merger, former township residents were eased into the urban tax structure, Mattson explained, unlike what happened when portions of the township were annexed by Chisago City earlier. Township residents were taxed at 50 percent of the city tax rate for the first three years after the merger, 60 percent in the fourth year, and 70 percent in the fifth year. Now, the sixth year after the merger, all city residents pay the same tax rate.

Most residents of the former city are seeing slightly decreased taxes from 2013. Those living in what was the former township are seeing taxes increase slightly in the coming year.

For houses valued at $150,000 the urban tax rate will drop from $923.96 in 2013 to $812.25 in 2014. Rural tax rates for homes with the same value paid city taxes of $646.78 in 2013 and will owe $812.25 in 2014.

Commercial property taxes are set to decrease about 4.5 percent for 2014.

The city has until Dec. 30 to certify the 2014 levy with the Chisago County Auditor.

Budget

The 2014 budget in the amount of $4.11 million was also unanimously approved. A breakdown of the budget shows planned expenditures $3.84 million for general fund expenditures. Of this, general government will account for $845,890, public safety $1.47 million, public works for $765,563, building inspection and zoning for $111,267, library for $46,150, elections for $6,000 and a transfer to the street fund for $600,000.

Capital programs are budgeted for $264,656.

Last year, $500,000 was included in the levy for the street reconstruction fund. Defeat of a bond referendum in August meant the city could no longer collect money to pay debt because no bonds were sold to fix the city’s streets.

Instead, for next year, $600,000 in street reconstruction money will be collected as part of the general fund levy and transferred to the street reconstruction fund.

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