Big government is expensive

That is what St. Paul homeowners are about to find out next year when they see their property tax bill. With Mayor Melvin Carter proposing a double-digit tax hike, and home values outpacing other commercial property values, property taxes are just about to go up.

As reported by the Pioneer Press,

The average St. Paul homeowner can expect to pay $3,924 in property taxes next year, a one-year increase of $506 or 14.8 percent, according to new projections from Ramsey County’s budget office.

Those figures apply to the median home in the city, which last year was valued at $228,700 but today is worth $266,300.

Home values have risen faster than other property types. That means “taxes will shift somewhat,” with homeowners paying more, said Corey Erickson, interim deputy county assessor.

Tax bills will go up an average of 6.5 percent for apartments and just 1.3 percent for commercial buildings.

Here is the breakdown of the tax hike.

$117 more for Ramsey County. The county plans to take a total of $339 million through its property tax levy, which is 4.5 percent more than last year.

$281 more for the city of St. Paul. The city’s $202 million levy represents an increase of 15.3 percent, although about half of that jump will be offset by the elimination of fees that paid for street sweeping, lighting and seal coating.

$76 more for St. Paul Public Schools. The district’s levy likely is going down by 0.9 percent, to $201 million, according to numbers released Wednesday. However, “The value of homes has increased enough that people still may see an increase in their property taxes,” while other property types pay less, said Lisa Rider, a controller for the district.

$8 more for the Regional Rail Authority, whose levy is set by county commissioners and pays for public transit projects; it’s going up 2.7 percent, to $30.4 million.

$24 more for other taxing districts. The county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority will collect $11.4 million, up 2.9 percent, and the city’s HRA will collect $5.7 million, up 9.7 percent.

Certainly, one could argue that some form of government spending is necessary. And indeed for some core functions like public safety, it is. But as I have written before, only 17.2 percent of St. Paul’s total spending went to the police in 2022. The rest goes to other services, some of which St. Paul taxpayers can do without — like investments in economic development or deeply affordable housing.

Taxpayers in St. Paul need to realize that government services are not free; they cost money. And the more services they ask the government to provide, the higher the cost will be. Higher taxes are merely a result of a growing government.

Considering that families are already facing high and rising prices, tax hikes are certainly going to hurt more than they otherwise would. But on the flip side, it just might be the necessary lesson to St. Paul taxpayers wanting to introduce even more spending programs— like free Pre-K — that big government comes at a high cost.