Ramsey County submits budget

2.5% increase proposed, with a raised tax levy

Ramsey County’s budget could climb at a rate of about 2.5 percent per year for the next two years.

County manager Julie Kleinschmidt pitched a $641 million budget for 2016, an $18 million increase from 2015.

2017’s budget would see an extra $14 million on top of 2016’s rise.

Kleinschmidt pegged those numbers to the county board of commissioners’ new vision and priorities.

“We believe this budget delivers on those priorities,” she said in a statement. “This budget addresses new demands for child protection, public safety and justice while also modestly expanding services residents have always treasured such as our libraries and parks. This proposal funds operations predictably year-over-year while providing structural long-term financial resiliency.”

Raising the levy

Today, 43 percent of the county’s budget comes through tax levies on commercial and residential properties.

Kleinschmidt’s proposed budget would mean a 2.8 percent tax increase for Ramsey County property owners. The county tax levy hasn’t been increased since 2013.

About 27 percent ($172 million) of the budget revenues come from federal and intergovernmental grants and transfers, which are forecast to go up slightly, about $2 million per year.

Roughly 21 percent of the county budget comes from charges for various county services, while the remaining 9 percent of the budget is comprised of various other revenues, such as property and sales revenues.

Roughly 90 percent of county spending is for services provided in four general areas: health and wellness, safety and justice, economic growth and community investment, and information and public services. A number of new or expanded initiatives in these areas are proposed in 2016 and 2017.

Hearings scheduled

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners will adopt a maximum tax levy on Sept. 22. The board is scheduled to vote on a final budget Dec. 15.

Residents are encouraged provide feedback on the budget at two public hearings:

• Sept.15. 1:30 p.m. Saint Paul City Hall ñ Ramsey County Courthouse.

• Nov. 30. 6:30 p.m. Saint Paul Central High School.

Some proposed expansions of services that would raise the Ramsey County budget include:

Health and Wellness

• Expanded child protection services

• Added probation officers, Veterans Services personnel, and Boys Totem Town staff

• Initiatives to do lead abatement and other hazardous-materials abatement in homes

Safety and Justice

• Expanded child support services in the County Attorney’s Office

• Additional sheriff deputies for facility security and administrative support

• A multilingual community outreach program for the Emergency Communications Center

• Additional probation services to mental health, substance abuse, DWI and veterans courts

Economic Growth and Community Investment

• Newly constructed Ramsey County Library in Shoreview with expanded space and hours

• Facility and access improvements at Lake Owasso Park

• Additional youth programming at Tamarack Nature Center

• Wheelage fee funds will allow completion of many priority roadway resurfacing projects

Information and Public Records

• Expanded early voting options based on expected demand for the 2016 general election

— Patrick Larkin

 

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