By Mayor Tim Busse
Each year the City goes through an annual budget process to determine what services it will provide, how much those services will cost and where it will get the money to pay for them. Services are funded by user fees, grants, local lodging and admission taxes, and property taxes. The City Council sets a preliminary property tax levy dollar amount and budget that must be submitted to Hennepin County at the end of September. The City Council must approve the final property tax levy and budget by the end of December. The final tax levy amount can be lower than the preliminary tax levy that is submitted in September, but it cannot be higher.
The 2022 property tax amount levied by the City was $68,296,727. About $58.2 million of that amount was levied to fund the City’s general fund operations. The majority of general fund expenses go to public safety services such as police, fire and road and infrastructure maintenance, as well as parks throughout the city. Other general fund expenses include Environmental Health, Planning, Building and Inspections, Assessing, Public Health, Community Outreach and Engagement, Parks and Recreation, Engineering, City Clerk, Human Resources, Legal, Finance and the City Manager’s Office. The general fund is the largest fund in the City, but it is just one of 30 funds with a budget approved by the Council each year.
The costs in the City’s proposed 2023 budget are aligned with the mission and core values of the community-based strategic plan Bloomington. Tomorrow. Together. Our mission is to cultivate an enduring and remarkable community where people want to be. However, the costs of City services are increasing due to the rise in the costs of supplies, materials, fuel and pressures from a tight labor market.
The Bloomington Fire Department is also in urgent need of a change in its staffing model. The department has been operating under a mainly volunteer or paid-on-call firefighter system since 1947. The ideal number of active firefighters is 155. The current active total is only 97. The number of calls answered with only one or two firefighters or an all-rookie crew has continued to increase. With increased challenges to recruit, train and retain part-time firefighters, the department has shared a plan to transition to a hybrid model of 75 full-time and 60 paid-on-call firefighters over the next 10 years. This would require increased property tax support.
The budget manager and City staff have been at many events this summer asking residents about what City services are important to them. Events have included the Police open house, performances at the Normandale Lake Bandshell and National Night Out block parties. Stop by the two remaining events—the September 17 Farmers Market as well as the Fire Department open house on October 15—to let us know what’s most important to you. You can also visit the Let’s Talk Bloomington page at blm.mn/letstalk to share your budget priorities and answer survey questions about how you receive information about the City budget.
The City Council plans to set the 2023 preliminary tax levy and budget at the September 12 Council meeting. A truth-in-taxation public hearing is scheduled for December 5 before the final property tax levy and budget are approved.
Learn more about the City’s budget along with information on public budget information and engagement opportunities online at blm.mn/budget.