Rochester sets maximum property tax levy increase at 8 percent
The Rochester City Council on Monday voted to set the maximum property tax levy at $57.8 million for 2016, representing an 8 percent increase from 2015.
A final determination on the levy amount will be not made until December when the council votes on next year's budget. At that time, the council will have the option to pass a levy increase either at or below 8 percent (cannot be increased).
Rochester will need to collect at least $56 million in property taxes next year — a $2.5 million increase — just to maintain current spending levels. If passed, the 8 percent increase would be the highest in a decade.
The council chose the 8 percent figure after reviewing the preliminary 2016 budget. City Administrator Steve Kvenvold is recommending the council consider $1 million in new funding for more than a dozen positions, ranging from custodians to dispatchers.
The bulk of the money would be spent on public safety. Kvenvold wants to set aside funding for five new police positions and two new firefighters. Police had requested funding for 13 new officers; the fire department asked for seven additional personnel.
Kvenvold also plans to ask the council to authorize a street light utility fee for $1.3 million in annual revenue, as well as a gas franchise fee that would raise a projected $600,000 each year.
The council will hold a public hearing on the levy increase on Monday, Dec. 7.