Council sets course for the future with approval of three plans

 Council sets course for the future with approval of three plans

 Richfield, Minn. (September 22, 2022) – On Tuesday, September 13, the Richfield city council approved three fundamental plans that will guide the community over the coming years. With the approval of the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, the 2023 Proposed Budget and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funded-initiatives, the council has established its long-range priorities and tools for the coming year and beyond.

“We first started talking about strategic planning in 2019, and then hit an obvious delay because of the pandemic” recalled city manager, Katie Rodriguez. “But, in hindsight, that delay was good, because there was learning throughout the pandemic, and I think it is a better document because of it.”

In mid-2022, the city concluded a comprehensive strategic planning process to better guide decisions and budgets over the next four years. That plan provides a framework for evaluating and prioritizing projects in both the 2023 budget and the ARPA funding, which were also approved on September 13. The budget and ARPA spending plan both connect with the city’s five overarching priorities identified during the strategic planning process: operational excellence, community development, sustainable infrastructure, high-quality workforce and equity.

Developing the plan included several months of engagement with residents, policymakers, local partners and staff and will include an online dashboard that displays measurable outcomes and performance targets for each of the priorities.

“This is a big step for the city,” acknowledged Rodriguez. “We’re making a commitment to taking measuring our progress and learning from it as we strive to reach our goals. We’re not going to meet all of our targets, but I believe it isn’t making the targets that is important, but rather the learning and the commitment to the work. That represents the kind of culture we want to build in Richfield.”

To build that culture, and on the priorities set with the strategic plan, the city council approved the proposed 2023 budget and recommended 6.60 percent increase to the 2023 property tax levy. The city is proposing a total levy of $26.78 million, which will include $21.23 million for the general fund, $4.10 million dedicated to debt service, $868,400 for equipment and technology needs and $579,096 for the work under the Economic Development Authority.

Property taxes are also collected for Hennepin County, Richfield Public Schools, the Metropolitan Council and other special taxing districts.

The 2023 General Fund budget is increasing 3.86 percent from the 2022 adopted budget, which is less than the previous four years’ and a modest increase given the incredible pressures of the labor market and inflation. The addition of debt service for the funding of the 65th Street Reconstruction project, and other costs, boosts the overall levy increase to 6.60 percent. That increase is comparable with other similar-sized cities in the metro area.

“When we see both our tax capacity going up, and our municipal aid going down, it is a fruit of our prosperity,” remarked Richfield councilmember, Simon Trautmann. “We have a budget that is lower than the rate of inflation, and that is the result of all our directors and staff making really challenging decisions to bend that cost curve in the midst of a lot of inflation.”

With a declining tax rate for 2023, if property values had remained at 2021-levels residents would be seeing a decrease in property taxes for 2023. Realistically, residents are unlikely to see those savings, as the average Richfield home increased in value by 15.94 percent this year, from $266,000 to $308,000. Due to that increased value, the average for a home in Richfield will see an approximate increase in their property taxes of $163 per year, or $13.60 per month.

“This budget represents progress,” explained Rodriguez. “It is a good balance of needed investment and being mindful of our limited resources and the tax burden on our residents. We haven’t solved all our challenges, but we have good, prioritized plans and good people working on it.”

In addition to the strategic plan and 2023 proposed budget, the council approved the recommended spending plan for the remaining $2.6 million American Rescue Plan Act funds. The projects covered by ARPA funds address ongoing COVID-19 impacts, one-time expenses or projects that can make long-term impacts. The approval includes much-needed software upgrades for the city, along with funding for a community splash pad, an Emerald Ash Borer tree removal fund, increased social service funding along with other projects.

“This funding allows us to go the extra mile for our community,” reflected councilmember Mary Supple. “One of the things I’m most excited about is our embedded social worker program in the public safety department. We funded it last year and she was able to provide support to many residents, but there were still unmet needs. With the next round of ARPA funding we will add an additional social worker, which will help even more residents and strengthen our community.”

This year’s Truth in Taxation meeting, where residents can attend and ask questions regarding the overall budget, tax levy or their individual assessed tax bill for 2023, will take place on December 13 at 6 p.m. during a special city council meeting. The meeting will be held at the Richfield Municipal Center, 6700 Portland Avenue, inside the council chambers.

The city council is still accepting feedback regarding the 2023 budget and tax levy. The council will vote to certify the levy at their December 13 meeting.

To learn more about the proposed 2023 budget and tax levy visit: 
To learn more about Strategic Planning, visit: