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Woodbury proposing slight levy increase

Rising home values are making this year’s preliminary levy estimates a bit of a challenge.

Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley said it’s tricky to estimate the effect on the average-valued home because residential values are dramatically increasing as the city gears up for another year of budgeting and setting the levy.

City Council reviewed the data at a recent meeting where Gridley said when residential values fall and commercial values increase, the levy poses a modest impact on the average value home.

“But when residential values go up 15 percent and commercial stay even, the tax burden is going to shift to residential properties,” he added.

Woodbury is proposing a 2.83 percent levy increase for 2015, the fifth lowest in the last 20 years.

The budget reflects a 2 percent increase in the city’s capital improvement fund, equaling to about $40,000.

Other budget highlights point to an increase in the street reconstruction levy by 5.5 percent, or $146,000.

The city is also proposing an annual wage adjustment – 2 percent in January and 1 percent in July – based on labor agreements.

City departments have put in requests for new positions this year. They include: an inspector position, jobs in the environmental division, human resources jobs and information technology personnel. No requests for additional police or fire positions have been discussed.

“During the recession, staffing changes were held off, and in some cases positions eliminated despite continued population growth,” Finance Director Tim Johnson said in a report to the council. “For fiscal year 2015, a number of new positions have been requested. These are being evaluated with no final determination at this time.”

Despite the increase, city officials say the proposed 2015 levy puts Woodbury at the bottom in terms of tax rates among metro cities, in addition to being the lowest in Washington County.

“I can say that with the exception of two really small communities … if you accept my recommendation, we have the lowest expected percentage proposed levy,” Gridley said.

Woodbury City Council is set to review the entire budget in a Sept. 10 workshop session before adopting a formal preliminary levy at a public hearing. The final tax levy will be set in December.

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.