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City digs into budget talks

Early budget discussions began in Woodbury last week, where city officials said the property tax climate is expected to remain low and non-hostile.

The maximum levy, set by the state, can't exceed a 2.76 percent increase in 2014, but Woodbury City Council isn't required to set the preliminary amount until September and finalize it in December.

City Administrator Clint Gridley said the recommendation to stick within those limits still keeps the change affordable to local taxpayers.

However, the staff is still working on details of the budget that would identify potential expenses needed to be covered by an increase in the levy.

In the past, the amount of increase was tied to servicing a specific need. For example, over the past few years the city needed to fund the public safety building debt, street rehabilitation projects, the addition of police officers/firefighters, and park and open space debt.

Woodbury City Council members seemed to favor the 2.76 percent increase as a reasonable parameter to start with, but did not take an official vote since the discussion was held at a workshop on Wednesday, July 24.

"The 2.76 percent increase is something my gut reaction favors," Council Member Christopher Burns said.

He added that expenses expected to come from public works projects and opportunities for revenues from new building permits are also important to consider when making the final call.

"Certainly it gives us perspective to think about," he said.

After doing the math and considering the relationship between the change in residential and commercial values, staff expects the average value home impact will be the same as the levy, 2.76 percent in this case.

Woodbury City Council will hold its annual budget meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.