Brooklyn Park Approves Budget, Plans for Additional Fire Service
CORRECTION: A previous version of this budget story mentioned the Brooklyn Park City Council approved a $47 million increase in the tax levy. That $47 million figure is the total property tax levy. The increase is actually about $2 million or 4.62 percent.
As the year winds down, local cities are ratcheting up budget talks. In Brooklyn Park, the city council recently debated a budget increase that’s more than three percent higher than last year’s. The 2019 budget totals $147 million.
The budget accounts for cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increases and a 12 percent increase in health insurance premiums for city employees. Wages and benefits consume 77 percent of the city’s budget.
Most Homeowners Can Expect City Tax Increase
The property tax levy totals $47 million. The increase is about $2 million or 4.62 percent higher than the 2018 adopted budget.
For the median value home of $228,600, homeowners can expect to pay $92.90 per month in city taxes. That’s a a slight decrease from 2018 (About $0.47 less per month, last year was $93.37).
Keep in mind these figures are just your city taxes, not your total property tax bill. Also keep in mind, how much more or less you pay in taxes depends on how much the value of your home increases or decreases. Three of out every four homes in the city will see some sort of city tax increase.
Council Members Differ on Budget
The Brooklyn Park City Council approved the budget on a 5-2 vote. Council member Mark Mata questioned costs associated with the golf course, vehicle replacement and salaries.
“I’m just going to state that I will not be supporting the budget. And explaining my no vote because we’ve taxed the citizens $1.8 million-plus every year,” Mata said. The body up here needs to learn to live within your means. Base needs versus wants.”
The budget did include the elimination of three staff positions, including two city employees who were let go. Another position was left unfilled.
“We are not a small community, we are a large community that continues to grow. Our home values are going up, thus the taxes have been going up,” said Lisa Jacobson. “We eliminated three positions in this budget, two people lost their jobs. We could cut more people. We could cut a million dollars and cut more people. Which people?
“I don’t think we’re living high off the hog here. I don’t think we’re going crazy,” added Jacobson.
Push to Add Firefighters
Mata also questioned $215,000 placed in the budget for additional fire staffing when a third-party study on fire department operations hadn’t even been completed yet. Some council members were fine with that. Parks said he didn’t believe the $215,000 figure was enough.
“I don’t know what the numbers are from the National Fire Protection Agency, how many firefighters we should have. We’re at unsafe levels right now. I can guarantee you that,” said Parks.
Investments in Mental Health, Youth Outreach
The 2019 budget also includes $80,000 for mental health outreach. The money will help Brooklyn Park police assist Hennepin County in making sure individuals who experienced past mental health crises are following their medical plans. According to Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington are doing similar initiatives.
Another $49,000 will further city youth outreach efforts. City officials say current youth outreach services have proven very effective.
“Twelve years ago when I took office, we had the housing crisis. We had crime. We had all these things,” said Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde. “I’m not saying they’re perfect, but they are so much different. The conversation at those doors, it’s 100 percent different this summer than it was 12 years ago. And it’s because we invested in police. We invested in root cause analysis. We invested in youth. People feel better. And I think that matters.”