The Shakopee City Council approved a 4.2 percent property tax levy increase in Shakopee's 2013 budget at its meeting on Tuesday. This is down from the preliminary levy increase of 4.5 percent and comes after the city had maintained a flat levy since 2009.
Finance Director Julie Linnihan presented the 2013 city budget to the council and made special note of the changes made in the budget.
The main cost increases to the city come from the addition of full time positions, $500,000 for capital improvements and an increase of $30,000 to the referendum levy for the fire station on Vierling Drive West. She noted that property taxes are the primary revenue source for the city.
The new full time positions are:
- Economic Development Specialist,
- Human Resources Technician,
- Four Full Time Firefighters,
- Natural Resources Technician, and
- Crime Prevention Specialist.
Part of the reason for the new positions is to re-staff positions that were left unfilled after employee departures in previous years, Councilor Steven Clay explained.
Daytime availability of firefighters has been a problem because many of the part-time firefighters are not available during the business day, said City Administrator Mark McNeill. To address the issue, the city plans to add four full time firefighter positions.
Funds for capital improvements in the amount of $500,000 are another increased cost for the city in 2013. Councilor Clay noted that some of the funding will go towards improving Shakopee roads.
The budget proposal included $13,000 for flower baskets in downtown Shakopee. Businesses agreed to pay for half the cost, and the city would be responsible for keeping the flowers watered. The motion was made and passed to accept the agreement.
Earlier budget discussions had included one part time firefighter in the budget. Although the position was removed from the budget proposal, the $40,000 to fund the position remained in the levy. Linnihan recommended that the council apply the $40,000 to debt service.
First, Councilor Pamela Schurman made a motion to remove the $40,000 and most of the full time positions from the budget. The motion failed 2-3 with Councilors Schurman and Lehman in favor of it.
Councilor Clay made the motion to remove just the $40,000, which passed 3-2. Mayor Brad Tabke and Councilor Jay Whiting made the dissenting votes.
The budget was approved on a 3-2 vote. Mayor Tabke and Councilors Clay and Whiting voted in favor of the budget and Councilors Schurman and Lehman were opposed.
Said Concilor Lehman, “There’s only so much the average household can take before they just can't take it any longer and feasibly pay it… Where does that put the city at that point? I’m actually really disappointed in this budget. It’s probably one of the most disappointing budgets that I’ve seen in the 12 years that I’ve served.”
Mayor Tabke disagreed.
“I’m extremely proud of this budget that we put together," he said. "I think it puts necessary investments we need for the future of Shakopee in the forefront and gets a lot of really good things done for our city."