Here are four takeaways from the Dec. 3 Shakopee City Council meeting.
1. Discussion on 2020 budget and property tax levy
A public hearing for the city’s 2020 budget and property tax levy was held, though no residents came forward with questions or comments. Here’s what residents need to know about the levy:
Under the preliminary levy, most Shakopee residents would see a slight increase in their annual property tax dollars, while their tax rates — or the percentage of taxes paid based on property value — will decrease. The preliminary levy was increased by $1.15 million, or 5.98%, since last year. The $20.38 million budget would focus on maintaining street infrastructure and investing in regional park development, according to former city finance director Darin Nelson, who presented on the levy at a Sept. 3 council meeting. Nelson has since taken a new job.
Shakopee’s preliminary levy would reduce the city’s tax rate from 34.9% to 33.9% due to Shakopee’s growing infrastructure and the addition of housing developments. However, most Shakopee residents would pay more in tax dollars due to an increase in property value.
On average, Shakopee homes will see a 6.7% increase in property value. This means the average home in Shakopee — a $255,400 home — would see its property value increase to $272,600 in 2020, adding $3.25 in additional property taxes per month. A home valued at $188,800 in 2020 would see a $3.16 monthly property tax increase, and a $369,600 home would see a $2 monthly property tax increase.
If a home’s property value does not increase, the owner’s property taxes will go down.
Council members will vote to officially approve the levy Dec. 17.
2. Economic Development Authority levy discussed
Staff recommended the EDA special benefit levy to be set at $350,000 for next year, which is the same amount as in 2019. That means a home valued at $272,600 in 2020 would pay $19 toward the levy in a year.
The EDA budget covers the wages and benefits for two staff members as well as money set aside for things like a facade loan request, economic development consulting services and miscellaneous studies and services.
The EDA levy is separate from the city’s levy and budget, but the city council will vote on both levies at the Dec. 17 council meeting.
3. City denies months-long request from Babe’s Place to close alleyway
Mary Isakson, the owner of Babe’s Place in downtown Shakopee, has stood in front of the city council since October to request the closure of an alleyway between Holmes Street and Fuller Street on an as-needed basis on Fridays from 6-8:30 p.m. Isakson said she needs the alley to accommodate the crowds of people who show up at her bar to participate in a cash-prize drawing in which the prize ebbs and flows along with the crowd each week, depending on the money at stake.
Isakson said her bar has run over its 350-person capacity several times because of the crowd the drawing attracts when stakes are high.
City staff did not recommend city council approve the request because the approval may set a false precedent for other downtown businesses who want to ask for similar favors, and also because Isakson could not confirm a start or end date to the alleyway closure.
“I’m the one that’s on the hook,” Isakson said to council. If approved, she would be responsible for lighting the alleyway and paying for other necessary costs associated with closing the alley for her business. “And this is the way to get people down to Shakopee,” she continued. “This is community.”
Council member Jay Whiting offered a motion to approve the request.
“I think there’s always an opportunity to try something and we can always revoke it at any time,” he said.
However, the motion failed three to two, with council members Jay Whiting and Angelica Contreras dissenting.
4. Shakopee wants to mitigate costs for required aid to county highway
Scott County plans to undergo a $13.25 million project reconstruct and add two lanes to County Road 42, and because the construction will take place in Shakopee, the city is required to pitch in $1.13 million.
The proposed project, which the county wants to complete in 2020, would create four lanes of traffic between County Road 17 in Shakopee and County Road 83 in Prior Lake. It would also improve and add trails and expand its stormwater treatment for the roadway.
However, because of a few disagreements, the city is vying to negotiate a lower price tag with the county. Part of that reason is because the trails the county is proposing to construct along County Road 42 will be 10 feet wide, per Shakopee’s regional trail policy. The county’s plans, however, were to construct eight-foot-wide trails. Because of this, according to the cost estimates, the county will only be paying for eight-foot-wide trails, while Shakopee is slated to foot the bill for the additional two feet.
The city is also pushing back against the county for designating Shakopee to take responsibility for Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community land that the county highway cuts through. According to the memo prepared by Lillehaug, “while the city is not indicating that the SMSC should be responsible for that (portion) of the costs, city staff has asked the county to absorb this cost versus passing it onto the city.”
Shakopee’s 2020 budget has accounted for $1.42 million for participation in the project, so the amount slotted in the county’s cost estimate falls within the city’s budgeted amount.
City council directed staff to come up with a cooperative construction agreement to be prepared to show the county.
County Commissioner Michael Beard, who spoke to council members at the meeting, along with Shakopee City Administrator Bill Reynolds seemed optimistic about the county’s ability to work with the city on mitigating costs, but also mentioned the time constraint the county is under.
“If this doesn’t happen this year, a couple wheels are going to fall off one side of the wagon,” Beard said.
Beard added the SMSC has historically been reasonable to work with.
“Don’t be surprised if they’re reasonable here with this project, too,” insinuating the SMSC may help Shakopee with some of the costs it will pay to cover the portion of the road going through tribal-owned land.