Cottage Grove city spending could increase 5.5 percentAn average Cottage Grove home valued at $188,400 would pay $777 in property taxes to the city, under the proposed budget and property tax levy released last week. That would be an increase of just more than $4 over the previous year.
After nearly a half-decade of essentially flat city spending, Cottage Grove’s proposed 2013 budget would increase general fund expenditures by roughly $700,000 over the previous year.
The proposed 5.5-percent rise in spending, to roughly $13.8 million, is needed, city officials say, to help the city catch up on expenditures it delayed while battling through the recent economic recession.
An average Cottage Grove home valued at $188,400 would pay $777 in property taxes to the city, under the proposed budget and property tax levy released last week. That would be an increase of just more than $4 over the previous year.
In 2006, the average single-family residential property in the city was valued at roughly $222,000 and paid $842 in taxes to the city, according to city figures.
The budget proposed by city administration follows a shift in budget direction from City Council members to city staff, officials said. In recent years, city officials adopted a “hold the line” mantra on spending, aiming to defer personnel and equipment expenditures until the economy improved.
To that end, the city cut the property tax levy by more than 2 percent in 2010 and increased it by less than a percentage point in both 2011 and ’12.
Now, with commercial development activity beginning to pick up, Mayor Myron Bailey said the message to city staff was, “what do you need?”
“Tell us what you need, tell us what’s critical, versus something you might just want, and we’ll make the call,” Bailey said was the message to city department heads.
City Administrator Ryan Schroeder characterized it as highly likely that the eventual budget adopted by the council later this year will be smaller than what went before the city’s elected officials at a workshop last week.
The proposed 2013 budget and levy, however, do represent a change from the city’s more austere budgeting posture in recent years, Schroeder acknowledged, though Cottage Grove’s goal remains to fall below the metro median in property tax levy rate.
“We’ve really had flat spending for the past four years [and] we can’t maintain that indefinitely,” Schroeder said. “I think council signaled there might be some flexibility.”
Bailey said he believes the council will consider limiting the property tax impact of the increased expenditures by tapping the city’s sizable budget reserves.