Faced with rising costs to provide services, the St. Louis County Board set a goal earlier this year to keep any increase in the property tax levy at or below the level of growth in the property tax base. They achieved that goal Tuesday with the passage a $394.7 million budget.
Just over a third — 35 percent — of the budget is funded by the levy, which was approved at $136.7 million. The levy reflects a 3.45 percent increase compared to the current year, but will be largely offset by a 4 percent growth in the property tax base.
The overall budget, while slightly less than in 2018, makes increased investments in human services, particularly in the areas of out-of-home placements, substance abuse and mental health.
“This budget is the result of a lot of hard work by the County Board, department heads and staff,” said Commissioner Pete Stauber, who chaired the Finance Committee. “It reflects the needs in our community but all is respectful of the impact any increase in property taxes has on our hardworking citizens.”
Also today, commissioners and others paid tribute to Auditor Don Dicklich, who will be retiring at the end of this year after more than 14 years in office. Numerous current and former colleagues and friends joined in recognizing Dicklich’s many contributions to the county.
“The leadership that he has shown in our auditor’s office, in our elections process … the amount of respect that Don has brought to that office, including the county’s AA+ bond rating … without Auditor Dicklich, this county would not have that AA+ bond rating. It has saved taxpayers millions of dollars,” said County Board Chair Keith Nelson.
At the conclusion of the meeting, commissioners also recognized outgoing commissioners Stauber and Tom Rukavina, and thanked them for their service on the board. Stauber was recently elected to Congress, and Rukavina did not seek re-election due to health challenges.