By John McLoone
The Hastings City Council Monday night unanimously passed the 2023 budget with overall expenses of $42,375.010. The tax levy paid by property owners to support the budget will increase 6.62 percent to $17,373,405.
City Administrator Dan Wietecha said that the median home value in Hastings increased by 20.35 percent in figures compiled by Dakota County. The owner of a median value home, valued at $305,000, will see an increase of approximately $164 to the city’s share of its property tax statement.
Included in the budget are:
•Four new firefighters/EMTs and one new police officer.
•One new building inspector.
•A new dump truck and a brush truck.
•Two new police department squad cars.
•Continued street, sewer and water utility projects as part of the city infrastructure plan.
•Improvements in basketball courts and ball fields.
•Reconstruction of the Hwy. 55 trail.
•Upgraded security to fend off cyber threats.
•Ensuring that city workers are paid market wages. The city is phasing in aspects of a salary and compensation plan it adopted this year that aligns Hastings wages with those of comparable and nearby com- munities. Also included is a 3 percent cost of living increase in wages.
Wietecha gave an overview of the budget at the Truth in Taxation Hearing held as part of the council meeting.
“This 6.6 percent increase is similar in what other Dakota County communities are looking at. We’re in line,” he said.
The budget uses a lot of one-time revenues, such as American Rescue Plan Act COVID-pandemic relief funds, as well as general fund balance to cover expenses.
The city is hoping for a Federal Emergency Management Administration for a grant for six firefighters but now answer on that has been received. Wietecha said the four additional firefighter/EMTs are needed now.
“Essentially, the call volume has increased so much. It’s doubled in the last decade,” he said. “We need more full time staff in order to respond reliably.”
On the capital improvement side, the budget includes increased funding for road maintenance. The neighborhood project this year will be Pleasant Drive and neighboring side streets.
In public safety, a big item is two new police squads.
He said there were $2.7 million capital improvement department requests that were not funded in this year’s budget.
Projects that have been carried over from previous budgets include the city hall dome replacement that the city received $2 million in state bond dollars for two years ago. Wietecha said that project is still coming together.
Residents speaking at the hearing expressed surprise more citizens didn’t attend the hearing.
Peter Mak said he was taken aback when he saw that his property assessment increased as much as it did.
“I got my proposed taxation value a couple weeks ago. I was shocked to see my proposed value of my townhome,” said Peter Mak.
Wietecha said that Dakota County sets property value, and the city uses that value in developing its budget.
Jim Wilcox told council members the increase is just too high, and he urged the council to make cuts.
“I fear what will happen next year,” he said. “Just because Rosemount and Farmington raised their taxes, we don’t have to be in line with them.
Another resident said the tax bill eats up three months of Social Security payments.