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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Your Tax Dollar

To better visualize our budget and property tax decisions, this is a graph I've been interested in seeing:

Rather than focusing on the total budget expenditures of each city department, what this graph illustrates is how much of your property taxes go as funding to each, using 2009 budget data.

For example, despite the large size of the Community Center in the city budget, it only takes about a penny from each dollar of your city property taxes. The rest of its funding comes from member fees, room rentals, advertising revenue, and the like. The Fire Department slice of the tax pie is considerably smaller than its budgeted expenditures, because so much of its operations are the ambulance service, paid for by charges to its users.

In contrast, the Police Department has only a small percentage of alternative revenues sources -- such as fines, forfeitures, grants. Police are a big part of the city's spending budget, but an even bigger part of the property tax pie because of this.

In most budget areas, cut on the expenditure side also bring cuts to revenue, and only a fraction of the apparent savings could actually translate into property tax reduction. Take the Community Center again. If you eliminated entire operation, cutting all of its payroll and other expenses out of the city budget, the net effect would only be about a 1% reduction in property taxes. Our staff continues to work to reduce the subsidy to the Community Center, but it's wishful thinking to suppose that just eliminating it would mean big tax savings.


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