Auburn property tax increase looms

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AUBURN — Despite efforts to trim the budget and make city government more efficient, the city still faces a 9.18 percent increase in property taxes in the 2010-11 budget.

Reductions in state aid and other results of a national economic downturn are having a bigger impact on the budget than efforts to save money, according to City Manager Glenn Aho.

Aho gave a 10-minute overview of Auburn’s proposed 2010-11 municipal budget Monday night near the end of the City Council’s workshop.

Councilors are scheduled to begin reviewing city department budgets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. They’ll review proposed budgets for the Auburn police, fire and assessing departments. A public review of the complete budget is scheduled for April 5.

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State budget cuts and other revenue shortfalls have been too difficult to overcome, Aho said. Staff has worked hard over the past year reducing staff time and saving money.

“We should have been presenting a budget that reduced the tax rate by 30 cents,” Aho said. “That’s how hard we’ve been working. The staff would have been treated like champions.”

Instead, Aho said the proposed budget would increase property taxes $1.68 per $1,000 of property value.  That’s a $336 tax bill increase for homes valued at $200,000.

The increase comes from $2.7 million in state revenue cuts. State revenue sharing, from state property taxes, are down 40 percent, Aho said.  State excise taxes are down 15 percent and road assistance is down 24 percent.

At the same time, overall municipal revenues are up 2.6 percent. Aho said the city would need to find $3.5 million worth of budget cuts, an additional $3.5 million in other revenue or $190 million in new property values to keep the property tax rate from increasing.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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