Public Safety Needs Drive Bloomington Tax Levies Increase | Bloomington

A change in the city’s property tax base and more than $ 1 million allocated to police and fire personnel in 2022 will result in higher property taxes for many Bloomington homeowners.

At its December 6 meeting, Bloomington City Council approved its 2022 operating budget and tax levy. With a 2.75% property tax increase, the City will generate an additional $ 1.8 million from local residents. taxpayers next year.

“Much of this can be directly attributed to investments in public safety,” said city manager Jamie Verbrugge.

The budget and levy were approved unanimously, without Board member Jack Baloga, who did not attend the meeting.

The additional $ 1.8 million will bring the total tax levy to $ 68.3 million, which finances 68% of the city’s general fund budget, according to Kari Carlson, the city’s budget manager. Among the sources that finance the remaining 32% of the general fund budget are accommodation and admission taxes collected by hotels and places of entertainment, which generate 9% of the general fund budget, and license fees and license, which represents 7%, she noted. .

An additional $ 1.5 million is budgeted for public safety services in 2022. More than two-thirds of that total is spent on fire service crews, according to Carlson. In addition to the $ 1.1 million spent on service teams, $ 396,000 will be spent on three full-time battalion commanders next year, she added.

The police department is receiving an additional $ 56,000 to meet the staffing needs of its support division, she noted.

Verbrugge said the additional spending on fire service crews is an effort to increase response times while providing adequate personnel when the first truck rolls out of a fire station.

Often referred to as a volunteer fire department, Bloomington firefighters are paid for every call they answer. But the ministry also maintains service teams. During these shifts, firefighters are paid for work at city fire stations and are available to answer calls. Teams are working to improve response time when firefighters are less likely to be available to answer emergency calls due to their main job, explained Verbrugge.

The city unsuccessfully applied for a federal grant that would have provided full-time firefighter salaries for three years. If the city had received the grant, it would have reduced the expense required for service teams, he noted.

The addition of battalion leaders will help ensure regular coverage of the department’s supervision needs, he added.

Changes in the real estate market are altering the city’s tax base, according to Carlson.

“Strong demand in the housing market has increased the value of many homes in Bloomington, while commercial properties have seen their value drop due to the pandemic,” she said.

Due to the increase in residential property values ​​and the decline in commercial and industrial property values, especially for accommodation and retail properties, a small portion of homeowners will see a tax cut in 2022, while 17% will see a 5% increase. % or less. “The majority of households see tax increases between 5 and 10%,” she noted. “Or even more for some.”

Property tax obligations for apartment buildings are also increasing, with 80% of apartment building owners seeing an increase in their share of property taxes in 2022, Carlson added.

Real estate value gains in the residential sector contrast with commercial properties, 58% of which will see lower property taxes, according to Carlson.

Although the city’s property taxes increase by 2.75%, the owner of a median-value home in Bloomington – $ 307,000 – will see their property taxes increase by 7.3%, she said.

So how much more will this mid-value homeowner pay in 2022? An additional $ 10.23 per month, Carlson noted.

The council held a Truth in Tax Hearing ahead of the budget and levies approval, responding to questions and recommendations regarding spending for the coming year.

The City’s strategic priorities fund is forecast for an additional $ 600,000 next year. Verbrugge said the fund has been a source of income to address unexpected issues or issues that had not previously been funded in the city’s budget. And more than a million dollars a year from the fund is spent on stabilizing tax levies in the coming years, primarily to reduce future increases in tax levies, he explained.

The fund also supported low-interest home improvement loans offered by the City’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, a popular program that is attracting great interest among city owners, he said. he adds.

Why is the City’s communications department receiving an additional $ 100,000 in 2022? Board member Shawn Nelson asked if there were any new expenses related to the operations of the communications department.

The communications budget has been funded for many years largely by franchise fees collected by cable television service providers and transferred to the city. The shift by consumers to streaming services for TV programming, commonly referred to as a cord cut, has stabilized the franchise fees the city collects, Verbrugge explained.

Board approval follows several budget discussions at board meetings and budget briefings held outside of board meetings. The city maintained a page on its website with budget updates and access to documents and videos related to budget planning, Carlson noted. The information is available online at tinyurl.com/b22budget.

According to Carlson, the tax levy proposed by Bloomington compares favorably to 15 metro counterparts. At 2.75%, it was “a considerably smaller increase than what these 15 metro comparison cities approved,” she said.

The preliminary increase in taxes for the 15 cities was 6.05%, with Maple Grove the second lowest on the list at 3.03%. The highest was Brooklyn Park at 10.11%.

Property tax bills include levies for other jurisdictions, including local school districts and counties. Some homeowners are eligible for a state property tax refund, depending on factors such as income, age, dependents, and permanent disability. Carlson discussed the programs during the council’s final budget presentation. The video of this presentation is available online at tinyurl.com/tax-savings.

Follow Bloomington Community Editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.

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