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Woodbury levy to increase 3.84 percent in 2017

The Woodbury City Council approved the city’s budget Dec. 14 with an increased tax levy of 3.84 percent next year.

The city's more than $81.3 million budget is an increase of nearly $4 million from this year. The Woodbury City Council approved the budget 4-1, with Council Member Christopher Burns casting a no vote.

Hiring new public safety officers, as well as improvements to street and parks, was among the most significant investments the city is considering for next year.

Officials said the need for more staff and amenities is largely due to the city’s steadily growing population, as well as needing to add emergency service staff the city wasn’t able to hire during the 2008 recession.

Since 2010, the city has added more than 2,700 housing units and is estimated to have seen 375 housing units that were added this year, according to city data.

The city anticipates it will house 87,000 residents, which City Administrator Clinton Gridley said will likely have an effect on the market value of homes in Woodbury. “This helps spread the tax burden,” he said.

Woodbury homeowners with properties valued at $277,100 — the median value for taxes payable in 2016 — are estimated to see a decrease of $3 in 2017, assuming the property experienced a 0.3 percent increase in estimated market value.

Estimated city taxes on a home valued at $200,000 will be $663, a $2 decrease from 2016

Washington County also passed its annual budget for 2017, which includes a 3.49 percent increase from this year.

Compared to 13 other Twin Cities suburbs, Woodbury's levy change is slightly below the average 4.6 percent increase.

Woodbury still faces some challenges in meeting resident’s expectations for community services, Gridley said, as well as adjusting to the city’s changing demographics.

Gridley pointed to ongoing efforts to reduce water being drawn from the underground aquifer and transportation planning as regional challenges in which Woodbury has increasingly been playing a role in addressing.

Still, “regional efforts come with complications and difficulties,” he said. “But it’s necessary to be part of the metro and be a leader in our area.”

The city also plans to replace a fire truck and dump truck, which come at a combined $1.3 million.

Burns said while he supported the majority of the items in the budget such as salary bumps for council members, the mayor and the city administrator were increases he’s opposed.

“That said, I will redouble my efforts next year and hope to have a budget I can support and vote yes on,” Burns said in an email.

Officials added plans for renovating Ojibway and Central parks in next year’s budget but did not reveal estimated costs.