Eagan approves preliminary raise to tax levy

Half of increase would help pay for new police, fire positions

The Eagan City Council approved a preliminary tax levy increase during Tuesday’s meeting that would fund the filling of several additional public safety positions in 2018.

The city’s portion of the tax levy would raise by 5.2 percent in 2018.

A truth in taxation hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5. Now that the preliminary levy has been approved, it can’t be increased, only decreased.

City taxes on the average value home at $277,322 in 2018 would increase by about $30 to $1,002, or a 3.1 percent increase over the 2017 city taxes on a average value home of $263,485.

Amounts will vary depending on property values, as the average home value increased 5.3 percent, and the overall increase in existing residential property values was nearly 8 percent.

“You may in fact see a decrease in property tax, but we tried to articulate an average,” said Dave Osberg, city administrator.

The 2018 general fund budget would be $35,983,800 if approved in December, which is a 7.1 percent increase over 2017.

More than $1.1 million of the increase is for additional staff for both the fire and police departments.

Next year the fire department hopes to hire four captains and two firefighters as it transitions away from a volunteer system.

The police department would like to hire three additional police officers to help meet increasing demands as Eagan has grown.

The budget also includes additional staff in the engineering, parks maintenance and central maintenance departments.

The city is also working on a general fund budget for 2019, which could increase by 5.5 percent over 2018 to $37,963,000. It would also include increases in personnel to both the fire and police departments, but it won’t be officially approved until next year.

The City Council also approved the rezoning of 3.9 acres south of the West End Trap Club to build 10 single-family lots.

Owners agreed to building a six foot privacy fence in between future homes and the gun club.

During the Advisory Planning Commission public hearing last month, Steve Sandberg from the gun club said the club would continue its public information efforts to keep people, children and pets off the club’s property for their safety.

“There’s a big difference to what’s going on these properties,” Council Member Meg Tilley said. “We have to keep people safe.”