Council set to OK budget, tax levyThe Woodbury City Council held its annual truth-in-taxation hearing Monday on the city’s proposed 2009 budget and property tax levy.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
The Woodbury City Council held its annual truth-in-taxation hearing Monday on the city’s proposed 2009 budget and property tax levy.
The hearing is required by law to allow property owners to comment on their property tax statements, which were recently sent out by the county.
The council plans to vote to adopt the revised budget it informally approved during a budget workshop in October. At the budget workshop the council decided to cut $750,000 from the preliminary budget it approved in September.
As a result, the council will likely approve a total budget of $60.4 million and a total property tax levy of just more than $26.7 million.
City officials estimate that home owners with an average value home of just more than $300,000 will see an $8 increase on their 2009 property taxes.
That’s not good enough for Jim Hasselman.
The longtime Woodbury resident told the council the city needs to mirror the responses of private citizens and businesses and cut its budget by as much as 10 percent during tough economic times.
“I think it’s a disgrace that anything goes up nowadays,” Hasselman said, regarding the current economic climate. “I think it’s burglary that anything goes up now.”
Hasselman said young, middle-age and retired persons are all struggling with their investments, mortgages and debt, and as a result have cut back on their expenses.
“What has government done?” he said. “Government has raised taxes. Is that a way to solve a problem? I don’t think so. You have to cut government spending during times like these.”
Hasselman suggested the city hire an efficiency expert to analyze its budget expenses.
But Hasselman did save room in his comments to compliment the city on being “better than its competitors.
“People may ask me, with all your complaining, why the hell are you still living here? Well, I want to live here, because I like Woodbury. It’s one of the most competitive cities around. But you’ve got to cut those taxes.”
Resident and local business owner Paul Hogenson said that the city’s property tax system makes it tough for small businesses to own property.
“Seems like the small businesses are not getting a fair shake,” Hogenson said. “If I want to own a building for my business in Woodbury I have to pay more and I get taxed more.”
Mayor Bill Hargis said he appreciated the comments and said that the city will continue its thoughtful budget process to remain competitive with other cities.
“The issues, as you get into ’09 and 2010 are not going to get any easier for anybody,” Hargis said. “And that’s including the city.”