West metro tax levy hikes range to near 7%

  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 4:02 PM

Pay raises for public employees are back as west metro governments look to 2013.

Local governments have set their maximum levies for next year, and in the west metro they range from a 0.0 percent increase in Chaska to a 6.95 percent hike in Bloomington.

Most of the localities have included pay increases for public employees in their calculations, though some of those pay raises are subject to contract negotiations that are not yet complete. The final levies will be set in December, after truth-in-taxation hearings. They may only be adjusted downward.

In Hennepin County, commissioners voted this month to cap next year's property levy increase at 1 percent, and the county administration slid in just under that, recommending a levy increase of 0.91 percent for 2013.

After a pay freeze on employee salaries since 2009, most employees in Hennepin County will get a 2.5 percent raise next year with no step increases, although some locals have opted instead for a 1.5 percent pay increase with steps. Next year's pay increases amount to $13.7 million.

In Carver County, commissioners are considering a maximum increase of 1.9 percent. Pay increases would total no more than $401,529, an increase of 0.9 percent over the 2012 budget. The increases consist of $100,000 in pay-for-performance salary boosts and $301,529 in other raises, including a 1.25 percent increase for employees at the maximum rate and 1.75 percent increase for employees not at the maximum rate.

In west metro cities:

In Bloomington, the proposed levy increase of 6.95 percent assumes an average employee pay raise of 2 percent; union contracts have not been finalized. More than $1 million of the increase goes to 11 priorities identified in a citizen survey, including park revitalization and low-interest home improvement loans.

Edina, which contemplates a 2.5 percent increase in its 2013 levy, assumes about a 2 percent raise in salary and benefits for non-union employees. Police and another union also have received a 2 percent increase; firefighters got a 1 percent.

In Eden Prairie, the city expects a 2013 levy increase of 0.9 percent, with pay increases to total no more than $503,700. That would be a 2.7 percent increase from 2012. Step raises in an existing contract would total $85,000; an across-the-board raise for all steps would equal $418,700.

In Chaska, which anticipates no levy increase, and Minnetonka, which has proposed a 1.5 percent levy increase, pay raises for 2013 will depend upon contract negotiations.

In Golden Valley, the 3.3 percent levy increase will help cover a 1 percent cost-of-living pay increase for employees.

Maple Grove, anticipating a 1.41 percent levy increase, has settled one union contract for 2013 with 1.5 percent raises. Other contracts are still being negotiated.

In Plymouth, which has proposed a 1.94 percent levy hike, negotiations are still pending for most employees, except for police and sergeants, who have agreed to 2 percent pay increases.

In Richfield, which proposes a levy hike of 4.5 percent, employees generally are getting a pay increase of 2 percent, said City Manager Steve Devich. More than $2 million of the levy increase would go to debt service for things like street improvements and the new City Hall. The expiration of a tax increment financing district means that more properties will be taxable, which Devich said should ease the impact on homeowners.

In Robbinsdale, which has proposed a 0.74 percent levy increase, the city will negotiate employee contracts later this year, with City Manager Marcia Glick saying they expect a "modest" increase in salaries after pay freezes three of the past four years. The budget includes $80,000 in annual debt for a building project.

In St. Louis Park, which has proposed a 4 percent levy increase, the city has budgeted 2 percent raises for employees. In addition to supporting general operations, the levy increase will be used to pay down debt and add to parks and capital replacement funds.

At Three Rivers Park District, which has proposed a levy increase of 2.8 percent, commissioners have asked for two scenarios regarding pay increases. Both are based on step increases for union employees and merit increases for non-union.

One scenario includes a maximum 1 percent merit increase for nonunion employees and an increase to the top of the pay grade of 1 percent. The second scenario includes a maximum 2 percent merit increase for nonunion employees and an increase to the top of the pay grade of 2 percent. Only the top step of the union employees' pay steps would get increases under both scenarios. The maximum increase would be $348,492 -- about 2 percent more.

STAFF REPORTS

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  • 2013 levies in west metro

    Tuesday September 25, 2012

    2012 levy 2013 levy* Percent(millions) (millions) changeBloomington $44.4 $47.5 6.95%Chanhassen $10.15 $10.33 1.8%Chaska $4.88 $4.88 0.0%Eden Prairie $30.6 $30.9 0.9%Edina $26.2 $26.9 2.5%Golden Valley $16.4 $16.9 3.3%Maple Grove $31.19 $31.63 1.41%Minnetonka $30.6 $31.0 1.5%Plymouth $28.7 $29.3...

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