The Eden Prairie police chief would like a more diverse department, at a time when there’s a shortage of police officers across the country.
So, he’s being given 2024 money to start a police cadet program, with the City of Eden Prairie helping to pay law enforcement schooling for up to four cadets in hopes of attracting more non-traditional officer candidates.
It’s one of several new initiatives that are part of a 2024 city budget approved Tuesday, Dec. 5, by the Eden Prairie City Council. A study of the city’s duty-crew model of firefighting is another.
They contribute to the city’s 2024 general fund spending budget of $57.5 million, an increase of $3.1 million over this year’s general fund budget.
Property taxes pay for 77% of general fund spending, and the city said its property tax levy will increase by 5.6%. For the median-value Eden Prairie home, pegged at $536,400, it means the city tax will rise $54 to $1,582.
The city is responsible for just 26% of the overall property tax bill. City staff estimate that when levies for the City of Eden Prairie, Eden Prairie Schools, Hennepin County, and other minor taxing jurisdictions are added together, the median-value Eden Prairie home will pay $6,158 in property taxes in 2024, which is up $285 from this year.
However, the annual change in one’s property tax bill can vary for a multitude of reasons, including higher-than-typical changes in one’s home value due to remodeling.
Here are some factors influencing the 5.6% increase in the city’s property tax levy:
- About $2.5 million of the $3.1 million increase in the general fund budget is due to higher wages and benefits for 263 full-time city employees. This includes a 3% increase in base wages, step increases, and performance pay. The cost of some insurance benefits for employees is also rising.
- There’s a $300,000 additional cost for elections because, unlike in 2023, there are primary and general elections which the city is responsible for holding next year.
- The cost of gas and electricity used for city operations is on the rise, and will be about $239,000 higher in 2024.
For every dollar the city spends next year in general funds, 34 cents will go to police services. The next largest shares of that dollar are 27 cents to parks and recreation, 13 cents to fire service, 12 cents to public works, and the remainder split between administration and community development.
The largest 2024 increase in spending for a single city department is $1.5 million by the police department. Again, wages and benefits are a major portion of that. The cadet program’s cost for next year is a maximum of $65,000, according to Police Chief Matt Sackett, including $50,000 for tuition and training costs for up to four cadets.
“It’s a designed program where you’re going to get them in the door, they’ll work part-time for you while they attend school, but we’re going to pay for all or most of that schooling,” Sackett said about the cadet program in September when the city council set the preliminary budget and tax levy for 2024.
Research shows there are barriers to non-traditional candidates pursuing law-enforcement careers, and school costs are one. Also, policing as a career has become less attractive in recent years.
“But I think the tide is changing,” Sackett said in September. “Working in a place like Eden Prairie, I think we have a lot to offer. But what barriers can we take down to get even more people in the door? And especially diversity, to better represent our community.”
Only two residents testified at Tuesday’s budget hearing. Both expressed concerns about how their homes had been valued by the city. (A home’s value is part of the calculation of property taxes.) However, the process for appealing one’s home value is one that takes place in the first half of the calendar year, shortly after assigned valuation notices are mailed to property owners.
Eden Prairie Schools is holding its property-tax hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, in the Administrative Services Center at 8100 School Road in Eden Prairie. Hennepin County held its tax hearing Nov. 28.
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