The Chanhassen City Council set the preliminary 2020 levy at $11,741,368.
The levy would be an increase of $721,500 from 2019.
Based on a Chanhassen average home value of $437,000, a homeowner will pay approximately $50 more than in 2019.
According to Finance Director Greg Sticha, that number is based on a 5% increase in home value. The city tax may differ if a home's value has either decreased or increased more than 5 percent.
The city cannot exceed the preliminary levy when setting the final levy at its Dec. 9 meeting.
The preliminary levy represents requests for an additional park maintenance employee at $80,000, an additional street maintenance employee at $80,000, and funding a portion of the upcoming city pavement management program of $350,000. The council may approve one, two, or three, or none of the requests.
Earlier in the meeting, Finance Director Greg Sticha reviewed three strategies for the council to review.
- A levy of $11,231,368, an increase of $211,500 (1.5%) more than 2019, which includes increasing service levels at the Chanhassen Fire Station with a duty crew. The impact on residents was estimated to be $3 to $4 more to a resident in 2020 than in 2019, based on a Chanhassen median home value of $373,000, according to the Carver County Assessor's office.
- A levy of $11,196,968, an increase of $177,100 (1.6%) over 2019, covering the cost of adding the fire department duty crew. The city would use $34,400 out of the library levy fund, and the result would be no increase in city property tax on an average home.
- Using $11,231,368 as the base, and increasing street and park maintenance, each at $80,000, and funding a portion upcoming pavement management program's estimated $350,000, for a potential total of $510,000.
Mayor Elise Ryan said the third scenario gives the council an opportunity to look at levy possibilities before making a final decision in December.
Councilor Dan Campion made a motion to approve a version of Scenario 3, seconded by Councilor Jerry McDonald.
Councilor Bethany Tjornhom said she had issues with the motion.
"I don't have a problem with discussing needs and dollar amounts, but if the city needed additional employees for public works and parks, that should have been discussed in budgets earlier this year. We haven’t had adequate time to discuss it as a council, and to look at different funding, different needs in our growth, so I don’t support it.
Councilor Julia Coleman agreed with Tjornhom. "I'm not comfortable with setting a preliminary levy at that high of a rate," Coleman said. "I would prefer it to have been hammered out far in advance of this situation."
Ryan spoke in support of the motion. Councils in the past have not increased the levy beyond new growth, she said, but in light of the city's growth and residents' expectations of a certain level of service, the city needs to look beyond its needs for 2020 and into the future, and prevent annual levies from fluctuating year to year.
She cited the need for a duty crew at the fire station, and the need to keep up with road maintenance. "I think there are still people in the city waiting for potholes to be filled," she said. "We can’t have an increase of road projects without supporting that increase. We are stretched thin. We need to be adequately prepared for the years to come."
A motion in support of the third scenario ultimately passed 3-2, with Ryan, Campion and McDonald voting aye, and Coleman and Tjornhom voting nay.
The city's Truth in Taxation hearing is Dec. 2.