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City portion of taxes should go down

Though the city of Farmington's preliminary levy for 2009 is 5 percent bigger than the 2008 levy, residents will still see a decrease in the city's portion of the property taxes.

The final levy and 2009 budget will be adopted at the Dec. 15, regular city council meeting. The city's proposed tax levy and budget highlights were presented as part of this week's annual truth in taxation hearing.

The 2009 preliminary levy is approximately $9.3 million, about $443,500 more than the 2008 levy of $8.9 million.

Of that, the city of Farmington's general fund accounts for $5.8 million, a 2.4 percent decrease from 2008 (approximately $5.9 million).

The city's tax base, finance director Robin Roland said, reflects an increase of less than 1 percent over 2008. That increase came from new construction and the decertification of tax increment financing districts. For years, Roland said, the city relied more on the revenues generated by building permits, but since the city's housing recession, which started a couple of years ago, the city has not been able to rely on those funds.

Instead, 78 percent of the $9.1 million coming in for the city's general operating fund is coming through property taxes, with the rest coming from fees and other revenues.

The city's expenditures, though, are estimated to increase by less than .73 percent over the 2008 adopted budget. Those increases come in the form of salary and contract obligations and paying for other professional services (like the city attorney). Only two squad cars have been added into the capital outlay portion of the budget, and no new staff will be brought on next year, Roland said. A recreation specialist position is being cut, marking the sixth staff position either cut or not filled since 2007.

Earlier in the budget process, there was a question as to whether to close the outdoor swimming pool. Doing so would have saved a significant amount of money, but pressure from residents caused the council reject that option. In order to keep the pool open, the city will transfer $75,000 from the liquor store funds to parks and recreation.

Most residents likely saw a decrease in the market value of their homes when their preliminary property tax statements came last month. That is not uncommon this year, Roland said. The median value of a home in Farmington dropped from $243,321 in 2008, to $234,713 in 2009.

Of the amount taxpayers pay, the city's portion amounts to approximately $1,036 for 2009. Of each dollar a Farmington resident pays in taxes 41 cents goes to School District 192 and 35 cents goes to the city. Another 21 cents goes to Dakota County, and 3 cents goes to other taxing districts.

The Farmington City Council will now adopt the proposed 2009 city levy and budget at the Dec. 15 regular city council meeting.