Politics and Government

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter proposes 15% property tax levy increase in next year's budget

A person looks on
St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter poses for a portrait outside of MPR offices in St. Paul, May 9, 2022.
Nicole Neri for MPR News File

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is proposing a 15 percent hike in the city's property tax levy in his 2023 budget.

About half that jump comes from a change in how the city pays for street maintenance and street lights — shifting those costs from fees or assessments, to the general fund which comes from property taxes.

In announcing his proposed budget on Thursday morning in Wigington Pavilion at Harriet Island, Carter said the move is in response to court decisions against the fee and assessment system. His proposed budget moves more than $13 million from assessments to the tax levy.

"To be clear, every single dollar of that increase, which represents over half of the total increase I'm proposing, would have otherwise been collected from St. Paul property owners through street assessments," Carter said. "It neither reflects an increase in the amount of funds we have to spend next year, nor solves the significant street maintenance challenges we've inherited."

While street fees and assessments would end, the Pioneer Press reported Carter's proposed budget would result in a $231 tax increase next year for the owner of a median-value home in the city.

The proposed budget also adds staff in St. Paul's police and fire departments, among other city departments.

The police department would go from about 763 full-time-equivalent positions in the 2022 budget, to about 782 in the proposed 2023 budget. Carter's proposed staffing increase comes amid increasing concerns about crime in the Twin Cities.

"We have invested heavily in our police department to address these challenges," he said. "Earlier this year, we graduated the largest police academy in city history. We accepted a COPS grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that allowed us to double down on these hires. Two dozen new cadets begin their training this week, and we expect to launch yet another academy before the end of this year."

St. Paul City Council members will now review the budget, and will set a maximum tax levy next month. They'll hold public hearings on the budget, which they must approve by the end of the year.

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