St. Paul signs off on nearly flat 2013 budget

  • Updated: December 12, 2012 - 8:46 PM

ST. PAUL: Mayor Coleman gets OK for new spending on food inspectors, rec center and library hours, schools and city's crime lab.

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Mayor Chris Coleman

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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The St. Paul City Council approved the city's 2013 budget Wednesday with nary a whisper of the controversy that characterized last year's 11th-hour maneuverings between the council and Mayor Chris Coleman.

"We had good communication throughout the process," Council Member Russ Stark said.

The budget grew little and came in at just more than $500 million, financed in part with a 1.9 percent increase in the property tax levy for next year. The 2012 levy increase was 4.9 percent.

Despite the slight increase, many St. Paul homeowners should see their property tax bills drop next year due to a tax shift, because more homes are estimated to have lost value than commercial and apartment buildings.

Coleman last week proposed nearly $3 million in additional spending and offered a plan to pay for it with health care savings, excess tax-increment financing funds and money that the city isn't spending as planned on Ramsey County's aborted fiber optics project.

The new spending, approved by the council, will pay for seven more food inspectors and more hours at three recreation centers and the Central Library. It includes $1 million held in contingency for St. Paul's troubled crime lab, once city leaders decide what to do about it.

The budget awards $200,000 to expand the St. Paul public schools' "Parent Academies" around the city. The free seven-week program aims to get parents more involved in their children's education.

KEVIN DUCHSCHERE

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