The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

December 8, 2012

St. Peter homeowners to see slight property tax increase

ST PETER — Taxes are rising slightly for average St. Peter homeowners, aided by relatively modest levy increases by local governments and by the property tax shift caused by legislative changes and rising farmland values.

The owner of a $150,000 St. Peter home will see a tax bill just $10 higher in 2013 than what was paid this year.

The St. Peter City Council is keeping its levy increase below the inflation rate once again — a 1.8 percent bump for 2013 after keeping its levy flat this year and inching it up 1 percent in 2010.

So the levy increase is averaging less than 1 percent a year in recent years, even as city services have been maintained at traditional levels, said Finance Director Paula O’Connell.

“We’re happy to have it where it is, keeping it steady for our customers,” O’Connell said.

The $37,500 in additional tax revenue will go mainly to inflationary increases in city costs, particularly health-care premiums.

“We saw a 5 percent increase in our health,” O’Connell said. “Other than that, we’re doing good.”

The city is taking on some new debt to purchase a $535,000 fire truck, but it’s also prepaying about $250,000 of the debt obligation for the St. Peter Community Center.

The St. Peter Public Schools levy increase was preliminarily set at 3.26 percent in September, and the final levy approved by the School Board on Dec. 17 will likely be close to that level, said Supt. Jeff Olson.

Like the city, the district is paying off some bonded debt as part of next year’s budget — which drives up the levy a bit but will save taxpayers $60,000 to $70,000 in the long run, Olson said. The health and safety budget is also rising a bit, covering a variety of health-related building improvements such as asbestos removal.

The 3.26 percent hike would follow a 1 percent increase this year.

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