ST. PAUL, Minn. - "I think it is a decent neighborhood."
That is Matt Sletten talking about his St. Paul home. The single father of two lives along Wheelock Parkway East in the city's north side.
"It's up and coming… A lot of projects going on. A lot of revitalization," Sletten said.
He bought his bungalow in 2004. Every year since then, he says, the property value has dropped and his property taxes either increased or stayed the same.
But change is coming.
St. Paul City leaders want to shift funding of city street maintenance from fees to property taxes. For people in neighborhoods in the north end that were hit especially hard by the recession, he value of their homes are finally going up. If Mayor Chris Coleman's proposed tax increase is approved, they could see a property tax increase of 24 percent.
"I don't feel it is fair for low-income families to pay these high assessments. It should be a state-wide thing, not a county thing," Sletten said.
Katheryn Schneider lives a few blocks down the road.
"It doesn't hurt me that much because I am doing ok," she said, referring to the property tax on her single-family home and her rental fourplex next door. Schneider says she's never had to raise the rent on her tenants, but with a proposed property tax increase she says she might.
"I don't want to raise the rent. Until it actually happens I am not going to do anything about it," Schneider said.
As for her north end neighbor?
"If I have to roll-up my sleeves and get a part-time job to take care of my kids. I will do it," Sletten said.
The mayor says the nearly 24 percent increase in property taxes is needed to offset a 21 million-dollar budget shortfall for essential services, some of which were previously covered by fees. A spokeswoman for the mayor's office added the increases could vary from property to property, depending on changes in market value.
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