The St. Joseph City Council will see a first reading next week on a tax rate and levy collection item that could lead to a slight increase in property tax collection.
State law allows taxing jurisdictions to increase their levies by up to 5 percent to adjust for inflation each year.
Proposed rates for fiscal year 2020 include a $0.0018 increase in the Public Health levy, raising it from $0.2190 to $0.2216 per $100 of assessed value.
This would result in a tax rate of $1.1416 per $100 of assessed value and an anticipated $12,152,910 in billings.
City Council Member Brian Myers, who is sponsoring the bill, said the increase is well below the legal limit and he considers the taxes in St. Joseph to be fair.
“I think our taxes as a municipality are lower than the average of a city this size,” Myers said. “I know the community definitely wants to keep them that way and we need to fight to keep them low.”
He said raising taxes any higher than the allowed amount for inflation would require a vote of the people, and he would rather see city revenues increased by bringing in more people to spend tax dollars than to increase tax rates.
“My preferred method is to find ways to increase people’s property value and bring in new businesses into the city,” Myers said. “That’s the best way to generate revenues in a municipality. You keep the tax rates low but you entice people to move into your community.”
According to reports from the Buchanan County Assessor’s office for tax year 2019, property valuations decreased by about 0.82 percent. This amount plus and increase of the consumer price index mean that raising to the legally allowed $1.17 per $100 of assessed value would not net additional revenue growth for the city.