What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Johnson: Would be "mistake" not to lower levy

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: August 14, 2013 - 9:22 AM

Add Council President Barb Johnson to the list of City Hall leaders hoping for a decrease in the property tax levy in Mayor R.T. Rybak’s final budget.

Johnson said in an interview Tuesday that “it’s important to have a negative recommendation,” though she hasn’t been able to speak directly with Rybak about it recently. Lowering the city’s property tax levy would be unprecedented in recent history.

But a 20 percent state aid increase and $7 million in unspent department dollars have created new flexibility for next year’s budget. Not to mention the fact that it is an election year, and several council members are fighting for their seats.

“I have the sense that we’ve been treated fairly by the Legislature and the governor and have an opportunity to lower property taxes and it would be a real mistake if we didn’t,” Johnson said.

She cited the local government aid boost and set-aside dollars as two key factors why the levy should be lowered. Johnson also noted that the city has 1,000 fewer employees than it did 10 years ago.

Her ward borders Brooklyn Center and Robbinsdale, which Johnson says forces her to pay attention to how Minneapolis taxes compare to the suburbs.

The city is not too “out of whack” with those particular northern suburbs, Johnson said, but “when you look at Minnetonka or people in Edina, it’s a huge difference. And we have to be careful of that.”

Johnson, a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, which sets the city's tax levy, isn't the only one calling for a decrease. The two citizen members of that board made similar calls on Tuesday morning.

Rybak gives his budget address at noon on Thursday.

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