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Proposed city tax levy lower than projected

Three days of budget hearings have led the Rochester City Council to a recommended budget of $258.7 million, including a property tax increase of about 7 percent over 2015.

City administration presented the recommended budget during public meetings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The budget includes property tax revenue of about $57.2 million, less than an earlier projection.

Budget discussions will continue Monday at a committee of the whole meeting; a final budget adoption is required by the end of the year and could come at the council's next regular meeting, Dec. 21.

The council in September approved a preliminary property tax levy of $57.78 million, an 8 percent increase over 2015. The recommended budget would require less property tax revenue than the preliminary amount, about $57.24 million, a 7 percent increase over last year.

Employee costs are poised to increase in 2016 with the addition of 22 new city positions. The 2016 recommended budget shows $74.36 million in employee services, compared to the $71.28 million budgeted last year.


In a memo to council members, City Administrator Stevan Kvenvold said the most significant increases to the budget were in four functions: public safety, public works, parking enterprise and the capital improvement program.

Public safety costs stand to increase by about $2 million, partly due to adding seven positions to the police department and two firefighters.

Public works could see a $1.8 million increase in the recommended budget with about $1.6 million directed to street maintenance.

The parking enterprise fund stands to increase by $11 million next year because of planned construction of a new downtown parking ramp that would be built in conjunction with the Broadway at Center project.

Finally, the capital improvement program could increase by $13.8 million to accommodate for construction and maintenance throughout city departments.

The capital improvement program is where council members have the greatest flexibility to make changes at this point in the budget process, Kvenvold said Monday.

Council members did not offer comments at the conclusion of Wednesday's budget hearing. Council Member Michael Wojcik said he planned to email any comments on the budget to Kvenvold, with the expectation that any proposed changes to the budget could be discussed in more detail during next Monday's committee of the whole meeting.

The committee meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the city-county Government Center, Room 104.

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