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Baxter approves its 2022 levy

The council approved the 2022 property tax levy without discussion during its Dec. 21 meeting.

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Baxter City Hall just off Memorywood Drive. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — After months of discussion, the council approved the 2022 property tax levy without further comment during its Tuesday, Dec. 21, meeting.

The council passed an increase of $482,500 for 2022, or an increase of 6.65% from the 2021 levy, totaling $7,739,000. Also passed was the city’s $26,162,200 overall budget for 2022.

In talks this past fall, city council members looked at costs for services, what residents expect the city to provide, what could be postponed, and a desire to keep any levy increase to single digits after seeing an early budget version with an increase of 10%. The council eliminated a $50,000 budget item for council chamber audio/visual upgrades and, with other changes, looked at reducing the levy increase to 7.4% instead while continuing to see if it could be reduced further before the final vote to set the levy.

The total 2022 levy was reduced by $16,100 from the preliminary levy, proposed in September at $7,755,100, a $498,600 or 6.87% increase from 2021.

Cuts to the proposed levy were made by postponing some park and street repairs, about $15,100, and reducing expected expenditures on the employee insurance plan by about $1,000, as preliminary costs were estimated before actual prices became available.

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Included in the 2022 operating budget are $13,600 for the 2022 elections; $19,000 in funding to The Center in Brainerd, a 3.62% increase from 2021; and with no changes from 2021, $5,330 to the Initiative Foundation and $8,000 for Fourth of July fireworks.

With a 5.2% increase to the water fund, a 1.8% increase to the sewer operations fund and a 15% increase to the stormwater operations fund, Baxter’s utilities will increase in 2022 rates, which includes the water, sewer and stormwater operations funds.

The stormwater fund was created in 2006 and is designed to reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants entering state waters from stormwater systems .

“One of the reasons for that little bit larger increase in the stormwater fund is that our operating expenses right now, excluding depreciation, are increasing about 14.4% projected for this year,” said Baxter’s Finance Director Jeremy Vacinek during a Dec. 7 workshop.

Currently, the three highest revenues for the city are property taxes at 37.7%, charges for services at 21.7% and sales tax at 14.8%. The top three city expenditures are debt service at 27.9%, water at 15.9% and public safety at 10.8%.

Also budgeted is $25,000 for the general fund to maintain reserves, protect the city’s bond rating, cover potential revenue reductions and unanticipated expenditures including fuel increases, seasonal impacts and unknown continued pandemic effects.

A home valued at $76,000 would pay an estimated $262 in 2022 city taxes whereas a home valued at $250,000 would pay an estimated $1,350 in 2022 city taxes. Comparatively, a home valued at $76,000 paid $259 in 2021 city taxes and a home valued at $250,000 paid $1,335 in 2021 city taxes.

A business valued at $500,000 would pay an estimated $5,309 in 2022 city taxes whereas a business valued at $500,000 paid an estimated $5,250 in 2021 city taxes.

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The council passed an increase of $482,500 for 2022, or an increase of 6.65% from the 2021 levy, totaling $7,739,000. Also passed was the city’s $26,162,200 overall budget for 2022. Infogram / Brainerd Dispatch

In September, Vacinek estimated there would be a 3.75% increase in residential property valuations with the commercial/industrial valuations increasing about 3%. This increase in the value of the home will change what a property owner will pay in taxes for 2022.

With the city planning to replace one to two of the police department’s squad cars in 2022, there is $106,000 budgeted for future squad car replacements. There is a $10,000 increase in the police department’s fuel budget due to the higher gas prices and $14,600 for programming to support the use of body cameras and squad video systems.

The contract with the Brainerd Fire Department for services in 2022 decreased 0.7% to $353,700.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

baxter-tax-levy-2022 (1).jpg
The council passed an increase of $482,500 for 2022, or an increase of 6.65% from the 2021 levy, totaling $7,739,000. Also passed was the city’s $26,162,200 overall budget for 2022. Infogram / Brainerd Dispatch

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICSMINNESOTABAXTER
Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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