Proposed 2014 tax levies before County Board, OPH council Tuesday

money clip art              The Washington County Board of Commissioners and Oak Park Heights City Council will consider their proposed 2014 budgets and preliminary property tax levies at separate meetings Tuesday.

The County Board meets at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will consider five resolutions that certify separate property tax levies for the county, Regional Rail Authority and Housing and Redevelopment Authority, adopting the 2014 RRA and county proposed budgets.

The Oak Park Heights City Council meets at 7 p.m. and its agenda includes resolutions approving the city’s 2014 proposed budget and general fund levies and scheduling the city’s “Truth in Taxation” hearing and public comments on the 2014 budget and levies later this year.

Both the County Board and Oak Park Heights City Council will consider their proposed levies and budgets days before the state-mandated Sept. 15 deadline for government bodies to approve preliminary tax levies.

Final approval of the levies and budgets is normally done in December after public hearings are held on the proposals. Government bodies can reduce preliminary levies, but cannot exceed the preliminary levy amount set in September.

The County Board is asked to certify an $86.7 million 2014 levy, .66 percent higher than the 2013 levy, and adopt a $147.4 million 2014 operating budget.

The Oak Park Heights City Council will consider a 2014 levy of almost $4.785 million and a proposed budget of almost $5.178 million. City Finance Director Betty Caruso said in a memo to the council that the 2014 proposed general fund levy is a 5.44 percent increase in the total levy and 6.2 percent estimated increase in the city’s total tax rate over 2013.

“This tax rate increase is due to the reduction in taxable capacity value and the increase in the levy of changes in the general fund operations,” Caruso writes.

2014 budget increases Caruso cites in her memo include:

  • $11,000 in debt service;
  • $19,000 for contracted snow plowing;
  • $80,843 in public safety during to budgeting for an officer’s retirement and other public safety expenses;
  • $20,532 in insurance;
  • $34,308 increase in the city’s contract with the Bayport Fire Department, and
  • $16,900 in increased capital cost and other contractual and supply expenditure adjustments.

Caruso reminds the county the city’s preliminary general fund levy must be certified to the county by Sept. 16, with the final budget and levy submitted to the county by Dec. 28.

In a separate memo, Caruso notes that the council in January tentatively set the city’s “Truth in Taxation” hearing for Dec. 10. She said the council could change that hearing date to either Nov. 26 or Dec. 26, but added that the council must discuss the budget and levy and determine the final levy at the TNT hearing.

The council could adopt a final 2014 budget at its Dec. 26 meeting, Caruso writes.

The County Board meets in the fifth-floor boardroom at the Government Center in Stillwater. The Oak Park Heights City Council meets the City Hall Council Chambers, 14168 Oak Park Boulevard North. Both meetings are open to the public.