Ramsey County presented a new two-year budget proposal Tuesday that would raise the property tax levy nearly 10%.
County Manager Ryan O’Connor said the 2020-2021 budget proposal created by staff is full of “transformational change” that includes a “residents first” promise. That requires additional investment, he said.
“We have a long way to go to live up to that promise,” O’Connor said.
The proposed 2020 budget of $742 million calls for a 4.75% levy increase and the 2021 budget of $763 million calls for a 4.5% hike.
The property tax levy makes up 44% of the overall budget, with other money coming from service charges and federal, state and other government funds.
Public meetings to come
The county will host a series of public meetings to review the proposal before voting on it later this year.
“Every aspect of this budget will be gone through with a fine-tooth comb,” said Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, whose district includes White Bear Lake.
The county’s last budget raised the levy by 4.3% in both 2018 and 2019.
Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo said she knows some of the St. Paul neighborhoods she represents, including Frogtown, have seen the biggest property value increases and could see some of the steepest county tax increases.
“That is something that weighs heavily on me,” MatasCastillo said.
But she expressed support for the budget’s emphasis on racial equity, affordable housing and putting residents first.
“The budget is a moral document,” she said. “The way we invest says our values.”
The last time the county avoided a levy increase was in 2015.