Love Lakeville, but not the taxes

  • Article by: DEAN SPIROS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2010 - 5:04 PM

Lakeville residents and business owners alike said in a survey that they would not favor a tax hike to maintain current services.

Lakeville residents and business owners give the city a strong overall rating, offer high marks to the police and fire departments, and enjoy the small-town atmosphere the city provides. But about those taxes ...

Those were among the findings of a survey commissioned by the city that included 400 randomly selected households and 294 randomly selected businesses. The survey was conducted by Decision Resources, based in Minneapolis.

Dave Olson, Lakeville's community and economic development director, said city officials are pleased overall with the results. The city has surveyed residents in the past, the last time in 2007, but this is the first time the business community has been included.

The information will be used by the city council when addressing the 2011 budget.

A majority of residents and business owners contacted were opposed to a tax increase to maintain the current level of city services. Among residents, 57 percent were opposed, while 68 percent of business owners surveyed were opposed.

Bill Morris, a representative of Decision Resources, said the results can be viewed as a moderately hostile tax climate.

On the question of whether they would support service cuts to get lower taxes, 41 percent of business owners were in favor, including 11 percent who were strongly in favor. However, 49 percent of homeowners were against service cuts, with 28 percent in favor.

Regardless of taxes, the survey showed most residents and business owners view life in the city very favorably.

Residents were asked what they liked least about Lakeville. Forty percent said there was nothing to dislike, which was up from 18 percent in 2007. But 21 percent of residents listed taxes.

The police and fire departments each received high marks from both residents and businesses, with 97 percent of residents offering a positive rating.

Asked to rate the city's business climate, 58 percent of business owners who responded said it was good, and 27 percent viewed it as excellent. Asked what they liked the least, 51 percent of business owners said nothing, while 24 percent pointed to taxes.

Decision Resources concluded that suburbanization has not occurred as much in Lakeville as in other cities in Dakota County, contributing to a small-town feel.

"More than anything, I see that as a state of mind,'' Olson said.

Dean Spiros • 952-882-9203

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