By Dan Solovitz
Cottage Grove has been growing, and as a result, property values are rising. Between 2021 and 2022 residents saw a 4.3% property tax levy increase. With a newly proposed property tax levy for 2023, residents will see an average 12.6% increase in property taxes compared to 2022, at a total of $20,649,710 million.
“Tonight, we are asking for adoption of the preliminary levy,” said City of Cottage Grove Finance Director Brenda Malinowski at the Sept. 7 city council meeting. “In December we’ll be back with you again to adopt the final budget and the final levy. It’s important to note that the final levy can’t be more than what you adopt tonight, but it can be less.
“The property tax levy is divided by our total tax capacity to come up with the city tax rate. We are seeing a significant increase in our tax capacity. We’re at $58.3 million. That’s a 25% increase. In comparison, last year we had a 6% increase in that tax capacity. Of that 25%, about 4% is for new construction, so that has had a positive impact here in the city. We’re having a positive impact here on our city tax rate. In 2022 our tax rate was 37.15%, and that is dropping by 3.5% down to 33.65%,” she continued.
Property owners will pay a median levy of $1,084 in 2023, compared to $1.011 in 2021.
“It’s a balanced budget with the proposed levy. We have a balance that shows revenues equal expenditures. On our revenue side, the general fund is our operating levy in the city, so it provides our police services, our fire services, plowing our streets, taking care of our parks maintenance. We don’t charge for doing those services, but we need to generate revenue, so we do that through property taxes, so it’s 76% of our budget in the general fund,” said Malinowski.
Mentioning that higher fuel costs, grocery, supply, and capital costs are affecting everyone, Malinowski noted, “Supply costs have increased to 1% in the last year. Capital costs have increased to 2%. Public Safety is the largest portion of our budget. It did decrease by 1% when compared to 2022.”
Cottage Grove resident Sue Wagner asked, “If we have any questions or concerns about our tax bills, who do we contact?”
Mayor Bailey suggested people contact the Finance Director.