Sep 12, 2023 Council Meeting

Agenda (click to open)

View the meeting (click to open)

Current Events

  • If you or people in your area want to meet and discuss any topics on your mind, reach out to me and we will set up a time to visit.
  • The city has an opening on the planning commission. Contact me or the city directly.
  • The city is opening up a position for a part time (20 hours / week) activities employee. Contact me or the city directly.

Item F (Deerwood Parking / Striping)

Months back we had a proposal to add a sidewalk along the east side of Deerwood. For a number of reasons (primarily resident pushback) that was not pushed forward. This is another possible option to improve the safety along that road.

What was proposed is that the parking along the west side not be allowed and that a 6' lane be created on the east side for parking / pedestrian use.

While I think this sounds like a good option, we hadn't talked about this at all and I wanted resident feedback before we did this. Something like this needs to be seen by the residents even if it is a good idea since it'll directly impact them.

Item L&M (commission updates)

These were just periodic updates we get from the commissions (the parks update was last meeting). They let us know what they've been doing and any projects they're currently working on.

Item N (Preliminary Plat - ROW allocation)

This one is a bit messy. A group that is looking at some Mixed Use development on the west side of the interchange will have to go through a significant amount of bureaucracies due to the amount and type of wetlands in the area. To facilitate this he needed to lock down the right of ways (ROW) into the properties.

There were a few disagreements regarding buffering and road widths that we agreed needed to be worked out between staff and the developer but the bigger issue was determining where and how much ROW was needed since the property doesn't have customers as of yet. The city typically requires ALL of the ROW on a property be allocated during preliminary plat. Without a specific allocation of ROW, the city may not get the access required for the property and a property to the north only accessible by that ROW.

The developer did provide a letter from them stating that ROW would be granted when the lots within the property were developed in the future which the council was ok with.

Item O (Planning Commission Appointment)

The posting for our planning commission opening had 3 applicants. The majority didn't feel comfortable selecting from those applicants and the decision was to open it up again for more applicants to come forward. There was also some discussion on better ways to advertise the position since a couple residents were interested in applying but weren't aware of the opening.

Item M (Preliminary Tax Levy)

This is the culmination of work sessions on the 2024 budget / overall tax levy.

Here's some loose definitions:

  • Tax levy = The total amount the city has voted to take in property taxes (which is what this vote was for).
  • Tax capacity = The maximum amount the city can take in property taxes. This is set by the county. This value is based on 2 components; Increased value of current properties and the values of improved properties such as new homes or businesses. This year those 2 components increased by 11% and 16% resulting in a tax capacity increase of 27%.
  • Tax rate = tax levy / tax capacity.
  • Your tax bill = the tax rate * 0.01 * property value (simplified).

Note that the second component of the tax capacity is due to NEW development, which means additional costs to the city such as additional plowing. Those costs will be paid for through new taxes on those improved properties. My opinion is that, absent other factors, the city should limit its levy to that value (16%) or less if the needs aren't there.

The original proposal was a 26% increase in the tax levy. That was a non starter for 3 of us. At this point the request had been pulled down to about 23% which was still not generating 3 votes.

But... the 3 of us dissenting agreed that there were addition costs to the city such as inflation and a number of increased Hennepin county costs that could be justified.

The final answer came down to about 19.5% (thereabouts). Additionally we decided to move the current EDA allocation back to the general budget which is about 1.5%. This reallocation won't impact taxes either way but allows city hall to spend it differently.

That meant that the effective increase in taxes was 21%.

Believe it or not, that wasn't enough for 2 of the council (one of which works for the city) which felt that the city staff should be allowed to make the determination as to how much to spend. We've been down that road before and it ended up giving us a 54% tax rate (one of the highest in the state). We're currently slightly below many of the cities around us at about 36%.

One of the approving members made the statement something along the lines of "why are we made to feel guilty that a 20% increase in overall taxes isn't enough?"

I have to agree.

On the other hand, one of those members that said it wasn't enough has in the past said that he wouldn't have cut taxes and if the residents don't like it they can vote him out.

I have to agree to that also.

With this levy (since we spent less than the capacity increase) we will reduce the tax rate slightly to about 34.5%.

There are a lot of numbers / concepts here.  Property taxes should be straight forward but they're not. If you have ANY questions about it feel free to contact me.

As always, contact me with questions / opinions.