Elected officials could OK higher property tax levies, workforce cuts, rec center closings, more library hours and other changes.
Calculations, negotiations and public hearings over the past few months will culminate this week, when elected officials in Ramsey County and St. Paul will give their final approvals for next year's budgets.
Ramsey County commissioners will vote Tuesday; the St. Paul City Council is set to give approval Wednesday.
City and county officials were relieved last week when they received word that there would be no reductions to remaining state aid payments due to go out at the end of the month. Local governments have had to scramble to deal with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unilateral cuts to state aid to local governments and other legislative reductions to balance the state's budget.
Property tax levies for both government bodies will be increasing, and it will vary whether taxpayers see declines or increases in their bills. Officials from the city and county point out that neither is levying back the full amount of money allowed to make up for the loss of state money.
Here's a rundown of highlights, lowlights and proposed changes before approval:
St. Paul's total budget, before transfers and other accounting moves, would be $626 million, up about $6 million from 2009. After accounting adjustments, which include transfers among departments, the total budget would be $538 million, about $2 million less than 2009.
Library, pool changes
The general fund budget shows a slight decrease in spending, from $198 million in 2009 to $195 million in 2010.
When it comes to what property owners will be asked to pay, the 2010 levy amount of 6.8 percent will be the lowest increase in the past four years. The city's portion of the property tax levy has increased by 9 percent, 15.1 percent and 8 percent in the three previous years.
The city's workforce will likely be smaller next year as about 120 full-time positions are set to be eliminated. Many of those have been vacant, but 45 people could be laid off.
St. Paul's police budget was buoyed by federal grants, about $7.4 million total, that allowed the department to hire 34 additional officers. That money, however, will run out after 2012.
Three recreation centers -- Front, Prosperity and Sylvan -- will be torn down for better fields and basic restroom facilities. Another five rec centers -- Baker, Griggs, Margaret, South St. Anthony and Wilder -- would be closed or turned over to other organizations for management. A Parks and Recreation spokesman said there are agreements, some tentative, for all five sites.
Some proposed changes in recent months include adding back about 10 open hours per week to libraries as well as overtime pay for firefighters. Another proposal it to speed up the timeline on replacing the Como Park pool. Planning would occur next year with construction starting in 2011 and completion in 2012. Earlier plans had the process starting in 2012.
In St. Paul, it's possible for the owner of a median-value $168,000 home to see a $9 reduction in his or her property tax bill. But when city fee increases are figured in, for such things as sewer and recycling, the property owner would likely see a $40 increase on the bill.
Ramsey County sets its budgets two years out, like the state. But given expected future reductions in state money, commissioners expect the 2011 budget to change from what's proposed now. "We need to wait and see what happens at the Legislature," said Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, head of the budget committee. "We've got bigger issues ahead."
The county's total 2010 budget would be $572 million, up about $7 million from 2009.
The county's portion of the property tax levy would be about $260 million, a 2.7 percent increase from 2009 and the lowest in a decade.
The county will likely cut as many as 90 positions, many of which have been vacant, and a dozen layoffs are possible.
Less money will be going to services in the areas of child protection, adoption, mental health and developmental disabilities.
Hours at Aldrich and Harding ice arenas will be cut.
The county will close a portion of the workhouse that hasn't been full. The county will allow an additional $1 million in estimated uncollectable taxes.
There would be some fee increases. Jail booking would cost $25. Renting a golf cart at a county course would cost an additional dollar. Getting a library card replaced would cost a buck extra. License fees for a range of food establishments will increase.
As far as projects go, the county's big-ticket item next year is $9 million on a behavioral health crisis center and commitment court facility.
Chris Havens • 612-673-4148