The 2011 city budget: Show us your work

Earlier in the week, the Chaska City Council held a worksession to discuss the 2011 city budget.  Facing a significant deficit, City Administrator Matt Podhradsky laid out his plan:

  • Raise the property tax rate by 6.6% from 0.2189 to 0.2335.  The increase in the tax rate is designed to offset the 6.6% reduction in property values, leaving the city with the same tax levy as 2010 ($4.88 million)
  • Do not hire a budget analyst and heavy equipment operator as originally planned
  • Delay purchases of a new siren for northern Chaska and additional snow removal equipment
  • Reduce the sealcoat and overlay portion of the street reconstruction program

 The spending reductions total $639,000, offsetting expected increases in other areas of the budget, such as personnel (up 1.5%) and operating costs (up 2%).

The Council will set the preliminary levy at their meeting on September 13.  The preliminary levy serves as the maximum limit for local taxation in 2011.  Approval of the final levy takes place in December.  At that time, the Council can choose to reduce the levy if it so desires.

What the City needs to do between now and September 13 is to “show their work” on the budget.  Let’s see the figures that lead them to believe that a tax increase is the best way to deal with the budget.  If the tax rate weren’t increased, what else would have to be cut to bring the budget in balance?  City officials should show us what the tradeoffs would be, and let the people have their say.

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