Here is what is not happening and what needs to happen. (Updates coming as I can populate this with data). Here are the actual tax changes in the city of Rochester. 2016 Property Tax Changes
- Bring back LGA – After promising to not harm Local Government Aid (LGA) in budget cuts Tim Pawlenty devastated LGA in his time as governor. If we received the same amount of LGA as 2000 per capita that would lower everyones city property taxes by about 18%. Our 2016 allocation of $10.2 million would become $20.3 and the total city levy would be reduced by that same $10.1 million
- Stop wasting TIF – Every dollar of TIF is a dollar that increases everyone-elses taxes. The 501 building failed to meet our basic requirements, and in my opinion did not provide a truthful accounting of their property acquisition costs. Despite this we gave them millions in TIF.
- Aggressively redevelop surface parking lots in the city core – All you need to do is take a look at the map of downtown Rochester to see how much high value property is not helping pay community bills. By replacing this with productive (taxpaying) mixes of uses everyone benefits by diversifying the tax base.
- Prohibit underdevelopment – We had a proposal to place a surface parking lot and suburban drive through on a prime downtown urban riverfront lot. Besides for the terrible urban design this also limits the tax capacity of the development and forever passes tax costs onto its neighbors.
- Implement Street Utilities – This is huge, most of our budgetary increase in the future are going to be driven by infrastructure, especially street infrastructure. As it stands we have hundreds of miles of roadways where the adjacent uses don’t come close to covering the major maintenance and replacement costs. The latest data suggest that the annual cost for major maintenance and eventual replacement is $12 million. The 2016 budget has about $2 million for those costs. (verification coming). A utility will mean that the adjacent property owners (including non-profits) will be largely responsible for their infrastructure, the current system will pile onto existing businesses.
- View infrastructure investments like a business would – Before the city ever agrees to accept a roadway or any other major piece of infrastructure, we should require the applicant, ourselves included to verify that the adjacent uses provide sufficient revenues to cover ongoing costs.
- Be a good corporate citizen – If you are paying poverty level wages or manipulating hours to deny employees benefits, you are part of the structure that causes public expenditures to be higher.
Since 2000, the city has expanded services while reducing per capita staff by 9.5%. The real growth in the city’s operating budget is under 1% annually.