By now all of you have received your property tax statement from Ramsey County reflecting your new 2015 taxes. Whether your taxes are going up or down this is a chance for all of the citizens in the city to participate and be heard by the Council on ANY city property tax issues.
The following is a summary of the proposed budget, along with some of my concerns:
- Even though you might have heard of a 4-1 vote taken in September that the preliminary 2015 city taxing levy is being raised by only 1.92% (approximately $131,000), this is not reflective of true budgeted spending by the city. Point of information: While this number can only go down, I have not heard from any other council member or the mayor that they are interested in doing so.
- The city will receive $554,000 in Local Government Aid (LGA) from state taxpayers which will be put into the general fund for additional spending.
- Ramsey County determined that it had wrongly collected $101,000 in city property taxes last year. This amount was returned to the city, but will also be put into the general fund for additional spending. If you add all of the above figures, there will be approximately $789,000 – a levy amount of over 12% of additional spending. There will also be $211,600 use of revenue reserves.
I personally find this position to be misguided. His refusal to reevaluate and present other scenarios that would not have spent all of the funding received is unacceptable. However, because New Brighton is set up as a "Plan B" city, if the City Manager believes he has three council votes in his favor the input of any other elected official is irrelevant. I take exception to that belief.
- Increase of $200,000+ for staff, salaries and steps. Note – The average salary before benefits and insurance is $75,000. Point of information: City manager salary will be approx. $126,000 plus a step increase. He believes that he is underpaid.
- Increase of $850,000+ for renovation of the rest rooms and locker rooms and the purchase of new exercise equipment for the New Brighton Community Center. Please note that only about 850 of the 1500 members live in New Brighton.
- Increase of almost $300,000 for the Police Department (budget $4,489,500/year).