Residents of the City of Redwood Falls are going to see an increase in the amount of property taxes they pay next year following the approval of the 2020 levy by members of the city council.

The council unanimously adopted the resolution that includes a levy of $2,829,369 for the coming year, which represents a 4.99 percent increase over the $2,694,767 levy for 2019. The levy was certified during the council’s meeting Tuesday night.

Missi Meyer, city director of finance and administrative services, led the council through the levy explaining the ins and outs of the funding as part of the larger city budget for next year. According to Meyer, the dollars collected in the property tax levy make up 9.51 percent of the city’s overall revenues.

Those levy funds help to cover a variety of programs and services in the city. Meyer broke down the levy dollars into those various programs and services the city provides. Of the amount being levied, 19 percent will be used for administration, finance and general government.

A total of 17 percent is used for project coordination and streets, with 18 percent allocated to culture and recreation.

Meyer said over the years the city council has made a conscious decision to fund amenities, such as the park system, adding other cities do not have those culture and recreation items intended to help improve the overall quality of life. 

A significant part of the levy dollars – 30 percent – are allocated to public safety. Meyer said in Redwood Falls that also looks different than in other communities which have a similar population for one big reason – the city provides 24-hour police coverage. No, Meyer added, not all cities do that.

The levy includes $1,250,563 in the general tax levy, including $823,217 for the general fund, $374,329 for the library and $53,017 for the port authority.

The levy also includes $1,578,806 in what are known as special levies. Those include $47,680 for the community center general obligation bonds, $30,466 for Garnette Gardens tax abatements, $31,547 for the Redwood Valley Fourth Addition tax abatement, $33,000 for the Ponderosa business park lots one and two, $73,186 for PERA and $1,363,927 for police department wages and benefits.

Meyer explained that the port authority is a separate item in the levy, as it has its own taxing authority, and she added the $33,000 for the Ponderosa business park is to help cover the $99,000 difference in the price of the sale of those two lots compared to what the city had invested in them prior to sale.

Both the PERA and police wages and benefits are their own special levies, because they fall into an area that would not be included should the state impose levy limits, added Meyer.

While the 4.99 percent increase represents the total increase of the levy for the city, that does not mean every property owner will see that much of an increase in their taxes.

The amount of property tax one pays is based on the assessed value of the property and where that fits into the overall tax capacity for the city.

In addition to approving the 2020 levy, the city council also approved the final budget for the coming year, which anticipates $28,329,272 in revenues and $29,763,747 in expenditures.