Stewart Proposes “Huge Tax Increase” Despite Claiming “No Tax Increase”

Republican Mayor Erin Stewart’s budget includes what is being called a “huge tax increase,” despite her own claims that her budget is a “no tax increase” budget.

Stewart’s press release on her budget proposal says that she, “presented to the Common Council a $237.72 million budget for 2018-19 that calls for no tax increase and an overall reduction in spending.”

But some close to the city budget process are saying Stewart’s budget is, in fact, a “huge tax increase.”

While Stewart’s proposed budget for the 2018-2019 budget year would keep the property tax mill rate at 50.50, that same rate would result in an increase in overall taxes because the amount of property valuations used to calculate property taxes went up due to the recent once-every-five-years property tax revaluation.

In January, Stewart announced that the property tax revaluation had resulted in an overall 6.27% increase in the taxable valuation of property in the city. Keeping the overall amount taxes the same would have meant lowering the amount of the city’s mill rate enough to keep that 6.27% from resulting in higher taxes.

But it appears that the full amount of the 6.27% valuation increase would be passed on to taxpayers in the form of higher property taxes, under Stewart’s budget.

Stewart’s January statement said that the increase in overall residential property valuations increased by 5.11%. That figure includes single family homes, two to four family homes and condominiums.

How that increase would apply to individual homeowners would depend on their individual property revaluation. Those whose property valuation went down would see their property taxes decrease, while whose valuations went up would see a tax increase under Stewart’s budget plan.

While the 5.11% overall residential amount included condominiums, taken separately, condominiums’ valuations went down by 6.73%, which would result in generally lower taxes for condominium owners.

On the other hand, the valuation of single family went up, overall, by 6.32%, meaning that, as a whole, single family homeowners would apparently pay 6.32% more under Stewart’s budget proposal.

Valuations of apartment buildings of nine or more units increased by 17.88%.

Overall commercial real estate valuations went up by 10.08% and industrial real estate went up by 6.93%.

In addition to increasing taxes, Stewart’s budget proposal would also flat-fund education, while continuing relying on increased borrowing to keep the city’s annual debt service down.

Stewart proposed her budget at the April 11, 2018 City Council meeting.

The Council has sixty days from that date, under the City Charter, to act on Stewart’s budget.