Lake Elmo city council passes 2017 property tax levy

In a year marked by split votes and strong differences of opinion, it was probably no surprise to most observers when the Lake Elmo City Council members, in one of their final actions of 2016, were divided when it came time to approve the municipal budget for 2017. 

With a 3-2 vote, the council passed the 2017 budget and property-tax levy on Dec. 6. Mayor Mike Pearson and council member Justin Bloyer cast the dissenting votes.

Lake Elmo finance director Cathy Bendel presented to the council the same levy amounts that were passed in September for the preliminary levy, but after the presentation, council member Julie Fliflet made two proposals to further reduce the total levy.

Fliflet proposed that $100,000 of additional cash reserve money be added to the $50,000 cash reserve money already factored in to the general fund budget and levy. 

Also, she explained the money for hiring an additional deputy to patrol the city does not need to be set aside until after the first quarter because that position will not be filled right away at the beginning of the year. As a result, she requested that the funds set aside for the position be reduced by $30,000.

These changes were passed, 3-2, with Pearson and Bloyer dissenting and the 2017 budget and levy were passed with the changes Fliflet suggested. The same two council members voted against the final 2017 budget and levy.

After the changes were factored in, the final 2017 levy amount totals $2,950,426. According to Bendel, the median 2017 Lake Elmo home value is $374,200 and a property owner with a median-valued home would see a $31 or 1 percent decrease in the city portion of his/her taxes.

“I like the lower taxes, but think we are being a little bit more thin than we should be,” Pearson said, adding he supported taking $50,000 out of the reserves to pay down debt, but he does not support taking money from the reserves to pay for general fund expenses, which is why he voted against the 2017 budget and levy.




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