Among the improvements the city will see from our new administration is an easier to read budget available online, a longer term view of how our decisions and those of others will impact the tax levy into the future. Much to my surprise the 2019 Levy increase is forecasted at less than a double digit increase. I am surprised by this because the former administrator left us in a poor financial, planning, and organization position when it comes to the budget. I am not sure how far staff got this year, but eventually we will have a 5 year budget outlook which will project the levy size. This will end our past practice of shifting costs into future years with no plan to address them.
While we remain AAA rated, this is not a statement as to how we are run but rather our ability to raise taxes, if needed, to pay off debt. My preliminary understanding is that this budget will allow of to create a planning department capable of meeting community needs, radically improve the efficiency our our building services, address shortcomings at the RCVB and city facilities and put us on the path to better sustainability. I also expect to see LED street lighting move forward in 2019.
It is my preference to utilize more user fees to help reduce the tax levy and will be looking for that analysis to be completed. Rochester continues to have the lowest property tax rates in SE Minnesota. Increasing property values have been the largest contribute to those properties which have seen significant increases in taxes.