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St. Louis County Board considering a half percent property tax levy impact


 

 

St. Louis County Board considering a

half percent property tax levy impact

The St. Louis County Board is getting closer to voting on the maximum property tax levy for 2018. During Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, County Administration recommended a levy of $132.2 million.

This would have a .5 percent impact on the property tax levy, thanks to the continuing increase in the property tax base in St. Louis County. As an example, the owners of a $200,000 home would likely pay an additional $1.12 next year - less than a dime per month - on the county portion of their property taxes.

 

Among the goals driving 2018 levy discussions are:

  • Maintain the current level of services in core areas of Public Health and Human Services, Public Safety, Public Works and other taxpayer services.
  • Direct additional resources to address substance abuse and mental health issues. This includes supporting innovative opioid treatment programs and partnerships, expanding Mental Health Court across the county, and the embedded social worker within the Duluth Police Department.
  • Address critical infrastructure needs to better serve residents and preserve county history. 
  • Make additional investments to support families providing foster care; and offset state funding cuts impacting our vulnerable adults.
  • Support targeted investments in programs serving youth, including Camp Esquagama, and expanded 4-H and Youth in Action programs. 
  • Further stabilize the county's health insurance fund while absorbing negotiated employee pay increases. 
  • Maintain strong financial practices and AA+ bond rating

 

 

The County Board's preliminary vote was unanimous in support of the recommended levy increase. The Board will officially approve the tax levy at its next meeting on September 26 in French Township.

 

"Determining the tax levy for next year has been particularly challenging," said Commissioner Keith Nelson, who chairs the Board's Finance Committee. "We're seeing increased need for services at the same time some funding sources are shrinking. So this proposed levy demonstrates a focus on controlling of costs and making targeted investments while maximizing the positive impact of a growing tax base." 

The proposed levy for 2018 is 4.45 percent higher than 2017. At the same time, the property tax base has increased 3.95 percent, offsetting all but a half of a percent of the levy increase. The levy – revenue collected from property taxes – makes up about one third of the St. Louis County budget. Each year, in establishing a preliminary levy, the Board must find balance between its goals for the services it wishes to provide, and the tax impact on citizens based on the cost of providing those services.

 

By law, Minnesota counties must set their maximum preliminary levy that portion of the budget collected through property taxes by the end of September. As the Board and staff work to finalize the 2018 budget over the next few months, the levy amount may be reduced, but it cannot increase. Commissioners are set to vote on the final capital and operating budget on December 19.

 

Two meetings have been set to collect public input on the levy and budget. They will be on November 30 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Virginia, and on December 7 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. Both meetings will 
 

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