By Anne Holzman
The Falcon Heights and Lauderdale city councils have both given themselves room to increase their property tax levies in 2022.
Falcon Heights set a maximum levy for 2022 that is 4.9 percent higher than the 2021 levy. Meanwhile, Lauderdale’s maximum levy for 2022 is 5.6 percent higher than its 2021 levy.
By state law, cities must set preliminary maximum levies in September and notify property owners of the projected impact. Then, they hold Truth-in-Taxation hearings in December to determine the final amount of their levies for the coming year, which can be less but not more than the cap they adopted in September.
Falcon Heights will hold its taxation hearing on Dec. 8. Lauderdale’s hearing will be Dec. 14.
Falcon Heights paid off the debt on a fire truck this year, using proceeds from the sale of the truck. That reduced the city’s levy calculation by just under $100,000, or about 4 percent of the $2.25 million levy from 2021. City administrator Sack Thongvanh said the shift from a city fire department to a contract with St. Paul for services also reduced the city’s operating costs.
Local government aid from the state and the fiscal disparity distribution, which is a revenue sharing program for the Twin Cities metro area, will both increase slightly next year for Falcon Heights.
Taking those gains into account, and balanced against increased expenses, the Falcon Heights City Council adopted a maximum levy of $2.36 million for 2022. The median home value for Falcon Heights has dropped to $309,000 (from $314,600 in 2021). If the council in December allows itself the full levy amount, that would yield $1,161 in city taxes due on that median-value home in 2022, an increase of $47 over 2021.
Lauderdale has also seen its home values drop slightly. The council set itself a maximum increase of 5.6 percent, up from $899,710 in 2021 to $950,351 in 2022.
The median home value for Lauderdale in 2022 is $215,150. If the council uses the full levy amount for its 2022 budget, the city taxes on that home will be $629.92, an increase of $30.74 over the tax bill for the same home in 2021.
Lauderdale does not expect its local government aid to increase, but the city will receive a slight bump in its fiscal disparities aid. City administrator Heather Butkowski said the increase in the bill for Lauderdale’s police services was the largest factor driving the budget. She also noted there will be election expenses for 2022 as well as staff changes.
City taxes in both cities typically account for about a quarter of a homeowner’s property tax. So, the cities’ increases have proportionally smaller impacts than that of either the county or the school district levies, which make up most of the balance.
This year, Ramsey County has proposed adding a levy for affordable housing, known as the HRA levy, to fund its Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Ramsey County spokesman John Siqveland said the county board will vote in December on a $339 million general levy and an additional $11.1 million HRA levy, which will show up on homeowners’ statements as a separate item under “other special taxing districts.”
Roseville Area Public Schools has two levy questions on the November ballot that will affect the total bills, as well. One replaces an existing levy; the second adds more revenue.
The county assesses individual property values almost a full year ahead and citizens can contest those proposed values at county hearings in the spring of each year. Homeowners should receive a statement from the county in November showing their 2022 home valuation as it was set last spring and the combined tax impact of maximum city, county, school and other levies for their individual properties.
Anne Holzman, a former St. Anthony Park resident, covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale government news for the Bugle.