Mayor announces zero increase in 2014 levy

Coleman presented his 2014 budget proposal Wednesday with focus on innovations, crucial investments and updated recycling plan

Mayor Chris Coleman outlined a structurally solid 2014 budget with a zero percent property-tax increase for Saint Paul today at his annual budget address. Mayor Coleman spoke this year from one of Saint Paul’s newest business headquarters—Matsuura Machinery USA. Matsuura, an internationally-renowned company with offices in several countries, chose Saint Paul to open its U.S. headquarters—one of the latest private investments in Saint Paul.

The cornerstones of Mayor Coleman’s proposal included maintaining a flat property tax levy for 2014, creating a City Innovations Team to find better ways to deliver services, updating the recycling program to allow more plastics recycling, and proposing an overall budget that increases by only 0.4 percent—far below the rate of inflation.

“I have traveled the state for years with other Minnesota mayors, speaking to the importance of state aid to property taxpayers. With state aid, we could hold levies flat. This year, the Legislature and Governor listened, and I am pleased to propose a zero percent increase in the levy for 2014,” Mayor Coleman said.

Mayor Coleman’s budget focused heavily on city innovations—city departments working within already-existing resources to find better, and more cost-effective ways, to deliver services to residents. Mayor Coleman announced a City Innovations Team, led by Budget Director Scott Cordes and created within existing resources, who will work to identify need for change, creatively address how best to move forward, and aid in implementing those changes.

“Unless we comprehensively rethink how we deliver services, the ability to hold the line on the levy as well as enhance, or even maintain, the quality of services in Saint Paul will be impossible,” Mayor Coleman said. “Today, the City of Saint Paul is committing to finding these innovations and truly providing better service to our residents at a better price—setting Saint Paul up for a brighter, more solid fiscal future.”

Mayor Coleman also announced an initiative to increase plastics recycling in the city, following the results of an extensive city-commissioned study done by Wilder Research. Results of the study showed that 90 percent of Saint Paul residents are concerned about a lack of plastics recycling, and half of Saint Paul residents aren’t aware of all materials that are recyclable. Respondents indicated that moving to single-sort recycling was a top desire. As a result, the city will expand plastics recycling, move to a single-sort system, and launch an educational initiative on recyclable materials.

Mayor Coleman’s budget made crucial investment in neighborhood projects, while his overall budget increased by less than one-half of one percent, a rate that falls far below the rate of inflation.

“The decisions we made in the past put us in a good position for 2014. I call this year’s budget the ‘no drama’ budget. But what it lacks in excitement it makes up for with a new emphasis on innovation, which will make the choices we’ve implemented sustainable for years to come,” Mayor Coleman said.