As St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and City Council members work to resolve differences over the 2017 tax levy, local officials learned Monday that the city's typical homeowner could see a property tax increase of as much as 4.9 percent, or $105, in the coming year.
That forecast was delivered at a meeting of city, Ramsey County and St. Paul School District leaders who got their first look at the possible combined impact of their respective tax plans.
The potential increase on the city's median-valued home would be $105 if the council follows through with plans to raise the city's annual levy by 8.6 percent. It would be $93 — $12 less — if the council goes with Coleman's proposal to limit the increase to 6.9 percent.
That's a dollar a month. But whether the slight difference is enough to persuade the council to buck the mayor and go with the bigger number will not be known until its meeting Wednesday, when both proposals are in play, Council President Russ Stark said Monday.
Stark was present for Monday's tax preview by Chris Samuel, property records and revenue manager for Ramsey County.
Unlike property owners in other communities, St. Paul taxpayers get an early look at property-tax projections for median-valued homes 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 must wait until the mailing of Truth in Taxation statements in November. Then, local governments weigh final action on their tax proposals.
Samuel based his projections on the so-called "maximum levies" already set by the school district and county, as well as the possible 6.9 percent increase recommended by the mayor. They include forecasts for individual neighborhood planning districts.
'Hard to swallow'
Coleman was not at the meeting. But Deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann made reference to the pressures that government leaders can face when it comes to taxes. No one raises them lightly, she said.
Eyeing Samuel's estimates of the potential tax bites on homeowners on the city's East Side, she added: "Some of that is hard to swallow."
Debate over the maximum amount that the city might raise has drawn the most attention of late. But Samuel's projections show that the school district is not far behind the city in its potential share of a property-tax increase.
Using the mayor's proposal of a 6.9 percent increase, the owner of a median-valued $161,200 home could see his or her tax bill rise from $2,138 to $2,231, or $93, with the city's cut of the increase being $40 and the schools' $31.
The tax increase for a median-valued $397,100 commercial property would be $550, or 4 percent.
Samuel's projections also take into account the market-value increases for typical residential and commercial properties — changes that also can influence the size of one's tax bill.
Homeowners will find tax bills varying from one house to the next, with differences driven primarily by market value changes. If one home rises more quickly in value than others, that homeowner is more vulnerable to a bigger tax increase.
Differences surface from neighborhood to neighborhood, too, and Samuel's projections show that two of the areas seeing some of the biggest percentage hikes are being represented by council members who have voted on opposite sides of the council's proposed 8.6 percent tax levy increase.
Dayton's Bluff, represented by Council Member Jane Prince, who has backed the bigger hike, would see an increase of 12 percent, or $144, on its median-valued home.
Frogtown, represented by Council Member Dai Thao, who has voted in opposition, faces an increase of 13.1 percent, or $136, on its median-valued home.
Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman, a member of the city-county-schools panel, noted Monday that the size of the Frogtown increase is due in large part to its recovery from the mortgage meltdown, after which values there "had pretty much tanked," she said.
The Highland and Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods, however, were healthy enough to withstand a buffeting of values, and their median-valued homes are in line next year for tax increases of 2.2 percent, or $93, and 0.8 percent, or $33, respectively.