Residents, business owners angered over tax levy increase

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 10:57 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – With Rochester’s city council approving of the latest budget and tax levy increase Monday night, many people weren’t happy.

“There has to be a stop as to how high the taxes will be in Rochester,” said one business owner.

“I can pick up and work a Sunday and get my extra hours and earn that money,” said one resident. “What happens to people that can’t?”

With the approval, the city budget is now set at $600.9 million for 2023. The tax levy will now increase by 6.85%. Though there will be no parking ramp or transit rate increases, there will be an increase to water and electric rates, to the tune of a 5% increase on water and a 2.5% increase on electric.

“It has created a hardship for small businesses with storefronts,” said one business owner.

Even more frustrated than residents at the higher costs were business owners, saying the increased rates in property taxes are what’s driving storefronts out of downtown.

“Our property tax like every other business has been raised higher than it should be,” a business owner said.

“Two businesses, Newts and potbelly, closed their locations, but kept their locations outside of downtown open,” a resident said. “I would speculate that part of that has to do with the property taxes downtown.”

The grievances left some on the council torn about improving the tax hike.

“I’ve heard from enough people who are in a lot of pain based on how much taxes have increased for them,” said Councilman Mark Bransford.

Other members argued that those complaints are misplaced.

“Most of the things people bring up as wasteful spending, are usually not levy spending,” said Councilman Patrick Keane.

“In the end, this community has a budget that we can hold it accountable to, and we can hold ourselves accountable to,” said Councilman Nick Campion.