Tis the season – budget season that is. After a preliminary levy was certified in September and appeared on 2011 property tax notices in November, the City Council was presented with several budget and tax levy scenarios to consider at its Dec. 7 workshop. Most of the options were in response to Council members’ requests and a staff-recommended version was presented as well.
All five of our elected officials were concerned about keeping the City’s portion of property taxes as low as possible in response to the economic climate, while at the same time maintaining Eden Prairie’s high standards for services. They were also mindful of the fact that 12 full-time positions were eliminated in 2009, there were no employee wage increases in 2010 and many other significant reductions have already been made to the overall budget.
After much discussion and careful consideration at the City Council meeting following the Dec. 7 workshop, Council members decided together that they supported keeping the budget flat and that it was important to have a zero-percent increase in the tax levy for 2011. The Council also agreed that a 2-percent wage increase should be included in the 2011 budget, which would be compensated for by an equal amount in services. In order to keep the tax levy flat, the Council decided to use funds from the Budget Stabilization Fund to offset any shortfall that might occur at the end of next year. Given that we’re expecting to end the year by surpassing our 2010 revenue projections and may not need to dip into that fund to balance our budget, I believe the tough decisions made by the Council are reasonable in order to achieve our goals.
I am pleased the Council came to an agreement and voted unanimously to approve the 2011 budget and levy. Budget and service reductions are never easy. But I can tell you that we as members of the City staff are committed more than ever to continuing our spirit of hard work and dedication to ensure the residents and businesses of Eden Prairie receive the best value for the services we provide.
On behalf of the entire City staff, I wish everyone a joyous holiday season and happy new year!
Interim City Manager