The typical St. Paul homeowner is looking at a big property tax increase next year if the city, county and school district pass their 2019 tax proposals and voters approve new funding for schools in November, according to projections released Monday.
The presentation to a joint panel of city, Ramsey County and St. Paul Public Schools leaders showed property taxes on the city’s $186,200 median-valued home rising by $323, or 12.8 percent, if all pieces of the tax puzzle fall into place.
Bills could run higher depending on the neighborhoods where people live.
Chris Samuel, the county’s auditor/treasurer, presented the annual report after St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called for an 11.5 percent increase in the city’s tax levy as part of his 2019 budget proposal, and after the county signaled it will increase its levy by 4.3 percent.
Just how big the final bill will be, however, hinges on the school district, and more specifically the $18.6 million-a-year funding proposal that the district is putting before voters. A survey conducted last spring indicated support from a majority of respondents, but that was before the city and county weighed in with their proposals and before a fuller look at 2019 taxes took shape.
Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard attended Monday’s meeting but was not asked by other local leaders about the Nov. 6 referendum. City Council President Amy Brendmoen did bring some light to an unusual bright spot, however. Homeowners who are hit with hefty increases resulting from voter passage of the district’s levy request could qualify for larger state property tax refunds, Samuel said.
Unlike property owners in other cities, St. Paul taxpayers get an early look at property-tax projections for median-valued homes and for apartment and commercial properties because of the distinctive nature of the city-county-schools committee, which was created by state law in the 1990s.
Most everyone else in the state has to wait until November when their respective counties mail Truth in Taxation statements forecasting what their tax bills could look like when the real thing arrives in March.
Monday’s projections for St. Paul property owners also took into account the market-value increases for typical residential properties by neighborhood — changes that also can influence the size of one’s tax bill. If one home rises more quickly in value than others, that homeowner is more vulnerable to a bigger tax increase.
The neighborhoods expected to see the highest percentage increases are Dayton’s Bluff, Payne-Phalen and Frogtown.
A year ago, Samuel’s annual report pointed to a 12.1 percent increase in property taxes this year for the city’s median-valued home. Then, however, a big chunk of the 2018 tax hike was due to a shift of the city’s street maintenance costs from a separate fee to the property tax bill. As such, the increased cost of city services was not as great as it appeared to be.
This year’s school district ballot proposal is designed to strengthen the district’s annual budget — cuts have been required in each of the past four years — and to fund strategic plan initiatives that include increasing mental health and social-emotional supports for students and improving the district’s middle schools. Many parents have moved their children to charter schools or other districts when they finish elementary school.
Voter rejection of the proposal would shrink the projected tax bill, but most people still would see increases.
According to Samuel, the owner of a median-valued home would pay an additional $188, a 7.5 percent increase, even if the district were to fail to win approval of its ballot proposal.