I am writing to take exception to the headline and first paragraph of the report in the August 26th Country Messenger stating that the “city of Scandia taxpayers can expect an eight percent increase in their local property taxes in 2021.” This statement is false.
The budget discussed at the August 18 Scandia city council meeting was just a first staff proposal. It was in no way a proposal acted upon by the city council as was strongly implied by this article. The annual budget process calls for the staff to propose a budget, several sessions of council review, and a public hearing before any approval is given.
Further, the 8% change in revenue proposed does not come from a levy increase. Rather, it came from other non-levy- based revenues, such as the receipt of fiscal disparities, which is the payments made to cities by the county to help equalize property tax disparities between communities related to regional commercial and industrial growth. The budget proposal includes the very same tax levy as 2020 that was $1,484,700 for an overall 0% change to the levy for the general fund.
All items in the proposed budget as presented by the city administrator are up for review. Especially during this time of economic uncertainty around COVID 19, I have and will continue to urge fiscal responsibility around city expenditures.