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Cities propose small levy increases for 2018

Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport have planned their 2018 property tax levies.

Each city will adopt a final levy in December. The city councils can decrease the levy after the initial approvals this month, but cannot increase them.

Newport

The city council approved a 2.50 percent levy increase for the 2018 budget Sept. 7, but what they will be able to fund is still up in the air.

A last-minute change in employee insurance policies complicated budget plans when the provider raised their rates 37 percent, about a $50,000 increase for 11 city employees. Staff is looking for other coverage plans that are less expensive.

The initial 2018 levy is $2.4 million. The 2017 levy was $2.3 million.

The expected tax increase for a median value home is about $37, based on a projected market increase of about 10 percent on Newport home values.

Depending on the city's health insurance bill ends up being, the city may fund repairs to City Hall and the fire station, a new play structure at Pioneer Park, other park improvements and a fire inspection contract.

The city will also be contracting with Woodbury to bring additional recreation programs to Newport kids. The current program the city provides costs about $3,500, and the city will continue to provide it in addition to the outside programs. The Woodbury programs will be about $5,200 each year.

Newport kids may start attending Woodbury programs next year or 2018.

St. Paul Park

The city council is proposing a 3.2 percent levy increase for the 2018 budget.

The initial 2018 general fund levy is $2.1 million.

The rate will cause an increase of about $20 for a median value home.

The city is considering funding financial software upgrades, a shed or landscaping for the community gardens and a Holiday Train food shelf donation.

The city council will approve the levy at the Sept. 18 meeting.

Cottage Grove

The city council approved a 3 percent levy increase for the 2018 budget cycle.

The initial general fund is $15.2 million. The 2017 general fund was $14.8 million.

Residents can expect a tax increase of about $6 for a median value home.

The increase will fund public safety equipment, a full-time building inspector, a stormwater employee, a water utility employee and parks equipment.

At the Sept. 6 city council meeting, council member Steve Dennis requested staff add a $2,500 increase for fireworks into the levy, to lengthen the Fourth of July fireworks show in 2018.

The city will contribute a total of $7,500 for fireworks, and the Lions club will contribute $5,000 as they have in the past.

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