Putting our goals and values into a budget

Each year the City Council and staff work for more than six months to develop a proposed budget for the following year.

In December, the City Council must approve a budget authorizing the tax levy.

The City Council lays out its goals and priorities in its budget. The budget reflects the City Council’s commitment to the community to fund the city’s strategic plan and invest in people to carry out the plan.

City priorities

  1. earth in hand

    Climate Action

  1. three hands in cohesion

    Diversity, equity and inclusion

  1. Store

    Economic vitality

  1. home

    Housing availability

  1. Ribbon

    Service excellence

  1. buildings

    Quality facilities

View the city's strategic plan

Bond rating

Just like a credit score for personal loans, a city bond rating provides lower interest rates when borrowing money for things like street reconstruction and remodeling of the fire station.

The City of Northfield is fortunate to have a “AA” bond rating from Standard and Poors based on factors such as our economy, debt load, financial performance, governance and management practices.

Property taxes

City taxes are about 39% of property taxes in Northfield. The remainder is made up of taxes from the county, 23% and school district, 36% and other 2%.

Property taxes by entity

Map of City of Northfield inside the Northfield School District and Rice and Dakota counties

Property values

Property value * class rate = tax capacity

Property values are determined by the county assessor. The assessor determines the value based on the market activity from the previous year, the property’s condition and any major improvements.

Median value home

The median home value in Rice and Dakota counties have steadily increased over the years

Rice County$196,600$211,700$227,300$240,200$256,300$292,750
Dakota County$250,850$283,400$296,300$317,400$321,700$357,000

Property classes

The property’s class is determined by its use - if its residential, commercial or another class. The property’s class rate is set by the State of Minnesota.

Growing the tax base

In Northfield, because a majority of the property is residential, homeowners bear more of the taxes compared to similar cities. The city is working to support growth of our existing and new businesses and industry to reduce the tax burden for existing residents and businesses.

Residential properties unbalanced compared to apartments, commercial, industrial and other classes

Estimated market value in 2021 in Northfield

  • Residential: $1.38 billion
  • Apartments: $120 million
  • Commercial: $196 million
  • Industrial and other: $56 million

Questions on property valuation

Contact your county assessor if you have questions about your property value.

Rice County Assessor's Office

Dakota County Assessor's Office

Property tax levy

City expenses - all non-property tax revenue = city levy

The property tax levy is the total amount of the city budget less all other revenues. The City Council annually approves the levy amount.

This amount is then divided among all taxpayers in the community based on their property.

Tax levy for 2020 is $10.2 million; 2021 is $10.6; 2022 is $11.8 and 2023 is $14.08 million

YearTax levy (total dollars)

All non-property tax revenue

  • Intergovernmental (local government aid, State Police relief, State Fire relief)
  • Charges for services (engineering fees, ice arena and pool revenue)
  • Licenses and permits
  • Other financing sources
  • Fines, fees, forfeiture
  • Other revenue and taxes

City levy items

  • General fund
  • City Facilities Fund
  • Infrastructure Debt
  • Housing & Redevelopment
  • Economic Development
  • Park Fund
  • NCRC building and operations
  • Police and Fire
  • Vehicle and equipment replacement

Current tax rate

City levy / tax capacity = tax rate

The tax rate is the percent the levy has increased or decrease from the previous year. For 2023, the City Council adopted an 18.5% levy increase. The tax rate increased 4.6%.

Property tax refund

If you're a Minnesota homeowner or renter, you may qualify for a Property Tax Refund. The refund provides property tax relief depending on your income and property taxes.

This is through the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Read more and apply for a property tax refund

Core city services

General government

  • Administrative services
  • Business development
  • Housing
  • Elections
  • Permits

Culture & Recreation

  • Library
  • Parks, ice rink and pool
  • FiftyNorth senior center
  • Recreation

Public Safety

  • Police
  • Fire and Rescue
  • Emergency management
  • Building inspections

Public Works

  • Street repair and construction
  • Snow plowing
  • Drinking, storm and waste water
  • Garbage, recycling and yard waste
  • City buildings

General fund

General Fund Expenditures 2023: 66% personal services, 25% charges for services, 5% supplies, 4% ot

General fund expenditures by category

  • 66% personal services
  • 25% charges for services
  • 5% supplies
  • 4% other

As a service-oriented agency, the city’s primary expenses are wages and benefits for the people to carry out the services.

Long-term planning

Each year, the Council takes a look at construction, planning projects and large-equipment purchases. These investment items typically affect the budget for 5 to 10 years.

Northfield Liquor Store

The Northfield Liquor Store profits provide funding to the City that reduces the amount of tax levy needed for services. The new Northfield Liquor Store being planned will be self-funded without tax support.

Monthly City charges

Calculation is based on the median home value in Rice County of $292,000.

  • Monthly utility fees: $75.75
  • Monthly property tax: $147.11

2023 adjustments

With feedback from staff and the community, the council makes adjustments to services and projects that effect the budget.

The total levy is increasing 18.50%.

1.00% Library

Library "oasis" staffing - increase 3 part-time staff to full-time.

0.50% Facilities Funding

Facilities funding increase to address projected shortfall in maintenance required.

0.50% Park Funding

Parks funding increase to address projected shortfall in maintenance required.

0.31% EDA/HRA/Other

5.04% Public Safety

Fire and rescue (NAFRS); add full-time fire chief and increased training.

Police overtime based on historical trend.

Police succession planning; hiring anticipates 2024 retirements.

3.30% Other operating expense / inflation

Riverfront planning; partial federally funded

2.20% Debt Services

5.65% General Fund Personal Services

Staff wages and benefits; provides wages and benefits to keep staff at the mid-level of the market

Budget timeline

Property valuations

  • March - County mails property valuations

Initial budget development

  • June - Past year's independent financial audit complete and presented to Council
  • July - Council budget meeting
  • August - Council budget meeting

Council reviews budgets

  • September - Council adopts preliminary budget, maximum tax levy and next year’s utility rates

Council prioritizes services and adjusts budget

  • October - Council budget meeting
  • November - Council budget meeting
  • November - County mails proposed taxes
  • December - Presentation and public input; Council adopts final budget and levy

Tax statements

  • March - County mails property tax statements (amount due)

Budget and execution leads to community feedback effects the strategic plan which effects budget

Participating in the budgeting process

Community feedback is important in the budgeting process. There are several ways to get involved directly and indirectly in the budget process.

Comment at the budget and levy hearing

You may submit a comment or attend and comment at the public hearing on December 6, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Contact the City Clerk’s office for details 507-645-3001.

Attend a City Council meeting

Over the six month budgeting process, you can make a comment during the public hearings portion of a City Council meeting.

Apply to a board or commission

City boards and commission often research, study, evaluate, advise and recommend action to the City Council.

Give feedback when asked

Over the year, the city will likely ask for input on services, priorities and projects. When you see these surveys, meetings and open houses, give your feedback and input.


Vote in city elections to choose candidates whose values and priories most closely reflect your own.

Paying your property taxes

Pay your property tax - Dakota County

Pay your property tax - Rice County

Questions and resources

Property value

Rice County Assessor's Office

Dakota County Assessor's Office

Property tax refund

Department of Revenue property tax refund

County budget and levy

Rice County Finance Department

Dakota County budget and financial reports

School budget and levy

Northfield Public Schools finances