City council sets property tax levy increase at 4.98 percent for 2022
On Tuesday, September 14, the city council recommended a 4.98 percent increase to the 2022 property tax levy for Richfield residents at its regular council meeting. For the next fiscal year, the city will have a General Fund budget of $27.9 million.
Infrastructure needs and expanded services requested by residents will make up the bulk of the budget increase for the coming year.
“Our infrastructure is aging and we need to make sure it is either replaced or received major maintenance before it is beyond repair,” explained Public Works Department Director Kristin Asher. “Next year, we will be continuing our 77th Street Underpass Project and starting the 65th Street Reconstruction Project. When they are finished, both projects will greatly improve the transportation experience for residents.”
The 65th Street Reconstruction Project will cost $10.6 million and the construction of the 77th Street Underpass will cost $23 million to complete.
Next year will see the full implementation of the city’s organized collection initiative, which aims to streamline both the costs and efficiency of how trash is collected in Richfield. The project, started in 2020, will provide more garbage, recycling and organics collection options for residents, as well as fewer missed pickups by haulers.
“Through organized garbage collection, we are changing the way we collect trash and other solid waste in Richfield,” said Sustainability Specialist Rachel Lindholm. “The new program will mean fewer garbage trucks on the street, as well as a single point-of-contact with the city that residents can contact to keep haulers accountable.”
When completed the organized garbage collection project will cost $200,000 to implement.
In 2022, the Police Department will be investing in several law enforcement reform measures aimed at providing elevated services to residents. These services include enhanced engagement efforts, the expansion of our social worker program to improve overall resident outcomes and completing a comprehensive demographic disparity analysis of the department’s services.
“As a department, we have always been at the forefront of new initiatives, and for us and our community, that means being transparent and improving outcomes for those we serve,” attested Police Chief Jay Henthorne. “Since the 1990s our officers have been committed to a community-oriented model of policing. The new initiatives we will be introducing in 2022 will greatly improve our positive impact in the city.”
The costs associated with these police reform initiatives are estimated to cost $100,000.
Other items budgets for 2022 include new playground features at Sheridan and Monroe Parks, a water plant education center renovation, expanded equity initiatives and strategic planning.
Even as Richfield’s vaccination rate, for those eligible to receive the vaccine, reached 79 percent during the week of September 16, which is higher than both the national and state vaccination averages, the global COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on all areas of life remain evident, including the city’s 2022 budget.
“It is a challenge to make long-term plans with all the instability surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained City Manager Katie Rodriguez. “We are experiencing our third wave of sustained case rate increases in Richfield as the Delta variant makes its way through Minnesota. These changes require us, as a city, to pivot our operations and service offerings to meet the necessary health and safety protocols.”
The pandemic has also negatively affected city revenues for recreation programming, public safety fines, intoxicating liquor licensing, as well as the number of transactions at the city’s motor vehicle and passport office, one of the area’s busiest offices.
As the pandemic ebbs, the city hopes that the majority of these revenue streams return to pre-pandemic levels.
A boon to the overall city budget has been the infusion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the federal government. In 2021, the city has been designated $3.8 million to help stabilize and rejuvenate the community as it emerges from the global health crisis. The funding should provide some relief for future budget cycles because it does not need to be obligated until the end of 2024 and can be spent through 2026.
“Even though ARPA was passed into law in March, cities are still working with their federal partners to understand what projects and initiatives the funding can be allocated for,” remarked Rodriguez. “We want to use this money the best we can to serve residents.”
For the average single-family homeowner whose assessed home value is $266,000, the average for a home in Richfield, will see a total increase in their property taxes of $13.29, or $1.11 a month, if their property value remains the same from 2021.
This year’s Truth in Taxation meeting, where residents can attend and ask questions regarding the overall budget, tax levy or their individual assessed tax bill for 2022, will take place on November 30 at 6 p.m. during a special city council meeting. The meeting will be held at the Richfield Municipal Center, 6700 Portland Avenue, inside the council chambers.
The city council is still accepting feedback regarding the 2022 budget and tax levy. The council will vote to certify the levy at their December 14 meeting.
To learn more about the proposed 2022 budget and tax levy visit: www.richfieldmn.gov/budget