City tax levy increase will be 6.6%
Hastings property values jumped 23% since last year

Hastings property values jumped 23% since last year

By John McLoone

A difficult budget year was aided by the fact that Hastings homes increased in value by 23 percent in the last year. As a result, the City of Hastings was able to raise more through tax levy.

At its Sept. 6 meeting, the city council unanimously approved a preliminary 2023 budget of $38,011,078, with a tax levy – the amount property owners pay on their real estate tax bill – of $17,373,405.

The levy increase is 6.6 percent over the 2022 levy. More than twothirds of the levy comes from increased property values. The median home value in Hastings is now $293,085, which will see an increase in the city’s share of property taxes of $195, or $16.25 per month.

“The 2023 proposed budget and property tax levy strive to balance current community needs with future growth, minimize risks and enhance quality of life throughout the city,” said City Administrator Dan Wietecha. “The city is experiencing the effects of increased public safety calls for service that we need to step up and address. Meanwhile, high inflation is driving the costs of maintaining an aging city infrastructure, replacing endoflife capital equipment, and employee recruitment and retention.”

Budgeted requests include:

•Hiring four more firefighter/EMTs, one police officer, and one building inspector.

•Replacing needed endoflifecycle emergency and patrol vehicles and parks equipment.

•Extending the life of city streets, sewers, water towers, and emergency alerting systems.

•Improving basketball courts and fields for leagues, reconstructing the Hwy 55 trail.

•Allocating dollars to the Community Investment Fund for public partnership projects that support the city’s history, art, athletics and other enhancements.

•Investing in cybersecurity updates and software to protect the city’s assets and customers from attacks; and

•Ensuring market rate wages for staff recruitment and retention.

The council also approved a proposed 2023 HEDRA Special Levy subject to the limit of 0.185 percent of the taxable market value. This levy is used for economic development activities that help grow key areas of the city such as the Vermillion Corridor, downtown and the Industrial Park.

The city council met with representatives of administration in a 11/2hour workshop to review the budget prior to the Sept. 6 meeting.

“This is a larger tax levy than we’ve done in a number of years,” said Wietecha He pointed out, however, that it’s in line with levies in other Dakota County communities, which are planning for increases averaging 7.2 percent, with one as high as 10 percent.

He said that with the amount of services the city offers, Hastings residents get real value with their tax payment.

“In the scope of things, they’re getting a lot for the money,” he said.

Real estate values have escalated significantly since last year. Overall, while the levy will increase, the property tax rate is scheduled to decrease.

The city also used $1,000,000 in onetime COVIDrelated American Rescue Plan Act funding to help with the budget.

“There’s heavy use of onetime revenues in this budget,” he said.

City Councilmember Tina Folch commented, “It’s actually less than what inflation went up.”

The hirings, especially in Emergency Services, are drastically needed, Wietecha said.

“We’re getting a large amount of calls. We’re going to have calls we can’t respond to if we don’t add staff,” said Wietecha.

Folch also pointed out that there will be savings if the city doesn’t need to pay as much overtime, because firefighters are required to work extra shifts.

“I’ve heard our chief say also that our firefighters are getting burned out,” said Folch. “I would rather be proactive in taking care of our community.”

Councilmember Lisa Leifeld added, “I think we have to look at inflation. That’s a really valid point. It’s important to understand what everything costs. We’re paying more for everything than we were a year ago.”

September 21, 2022