ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Rochester City Council was back at it again with budget talks on Monday. The Committee of the Whole meeting was the last of three focused on the 2020 budget overview.
City staff members, led by City Administrator Steve Rymer, offered their recommended budget numbers for council members to consider, but how much can be done depends on how much the tax levy might go up.
It’s a new look this year, the Rochester City Council is working to set a budget for 2020 by the end of September, instead of waiting until the end of the year.
The recommended budget by city staff for 2020 is more than $387 million. Along with the budget comes a big sticking point, which revolves around the maximum tax levy increase.
“Right now what the city council is asked to do is set a maximum levy increase for next year and that’s going to be probably 6.5%. That doesn’t mean taxes are going up 6.5%, on average it’s going to be quite a bit less than that, because there’s new growth in the community, but what that does is for the budget is gives us a starting
point that we must come in at or below,” said Rochester City Council Member, Michael Wojcik.
That 6.5% would include funding for many projects the council members discussed, with a laundry list of topics covered, such as new LED street lighting and signs for a 25 mph posted speed limit in downtown and neighborhood areas.
Wojcik explained, “City councils are a little bit like cats, that if you put something bright and shiny in front of them, we’ll react to it and a little bit if you have something in front of you to talk about, we’re going to talk about it. But there are some things that have been long ongoing frustrations for the community for some period of time.”
According to Wojcik the city’s tax payers are already saving a million dollars this year, due to changes made at the Mayo Civic Center. Helping the council decide what to do with this new budget.
“We are in a time of great change right now. We’re seeing tremendous savings in the community because of the changes we made at Mayo Civic Center and honestly that’s got us thinking maybe there are some other areas we can change and do better in as well,” continued Wojcik.
He also stresses that the number they set doesn’t mean everyone will see that exact increase in taxes, it varies on an individual level.
The council is scheduled to vote on setting that maximum tax levy increase at next Monday’s meeting.
But if members fail to reach a decision by then, the council would be faced with the potential of calling a special meeting at the end of September to set that maximum.