BAXTER — After two years of no increase Baxter residents will see an increase in their 2014 property taxes, as the Baxter City Council Tuesday approved its final budget and levy.
The final levy for 2014 property taxes will be $5,508,200, representing a $58,000 or 1.06 percent increase compared to 2013. The final 2014 levy remaines below the 2009 final levy of $5,513,700.
Of the total 2014 levy, $1,126,000 of it will be the debt service levy.
The final budget also was approved, with the city having $14,251,800 in expenditures compared with the current 2013 amended budget of $12,929,300. The majority of the increase is due to capital projects such as the planned park improvements, scheduled capital equipment replacements — including a street department dump truck with a plow, budgeted street reconstruction projects, and the purchase of a new well to replace the chemical treatment system at the water plant. Part of expenditures for these projects will reduce the debt service funds budget for next year.
In an earlier budget meeting Mayor Darrel Olson said 61 percent of the increase is based on higher costs for fire protection after Brainerd decided to keep two firefighters when they were not able to get grants to pay their wages. Brainerd is still seeking grant money for those two firefighters but city officials stated two firefighters will be let go if there isn’t grant money.
Baxter doesn’t expect to see a reduction in fire fees until the 2015 budget.
In an Aug. 27 budget session the council heard the city expects $13,631,700 of new market value from new construction as of Jan. 1, 2013, meaning about $189,000 of new tax capacity. During the boom years, increased tax capacity from new construction was able to decrease the pressure on residential property taxes.
Crow Wing County reported that even with $13.6 million in new construction Baxter’s estimated market value is decreasing by $11.8 million to $793.2 million in 2013. Valuations are down countywide by 3.61 percent.