Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Truth in Taxation Hearing filled with questions

 

December 19, 2019



The Truth in Taxation Hearing followed the Regular Meeting on December 3 and was called to order at 6 PM by Vice-Chair Marv Bodie. 20 plus citizens attended the hearing in which the proposed County budget for 2020 was presented. An increase in the levy of 3.9% had been approved in September but Acting Chair Bodie commented that staff is working to reduce that increase by the time of the scheduled Adjourned meeting of the County Board on December 23 at 4 PM when the final budget and levy will be approved.

Also scheduled for that evening are hearings on the proposed Tobacco Ordinance at 4:30 PM and the Capital Bonding for the Barnum County garage at 5:00 PM.

Most of the citizens attending the Truth in Taxation hearing came from the NE portion of the County. Proposed property tax increases of $600 on Big Lake properties and a proposed monthly charge of $120 for hookup to the Big Lake Sanitary District line for local residents in that district drew sharp comments. Those people affected were referred to the Big Lake Sanitary District Board of Directors who is the taxing authority.

The impact of Tax Court settlements has impacted the Townships of Perch Lake, Twin Lakes and Silver Brook where the bulk of oil and gas pipelines are located and have a major impact on property tax valuations in that area. Not only are utility over payments during the last ten years scheduled to be paid back by the County, school districts, cities and townships, but the tax court settlements have generally reduced the taxing value of these utilities. The result impacts the remaining tax payers in those areas who must make up the difference.

Increases in property tax bills levied by a township for those taxpayers attending the hearing were referred by the County officials to the township of their residence.

Assessor Kyle Holmes spoke of the tax break that is given veterans who have a certain percentage of certified disability. This tax break decreases the property tax bill of disabled veterans or their surviving spouses. $47 million worth of property tax value is nontaxable and the burden of money raised for schools and local governments must be paid by the remaining taxpayers. Holmes stated that the State mandates this program and should pay for it with State dollars.

Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee addressed several issues involving his program’s funding. Lee said that 95% of the local HHS program is Federal and State mandated. Of the $22 million budget of the HHS about $8 million comes from the property tax levy. A majority of the budget dollars goes for elderly and disabled care.

Increases in the local HHS budget have remained in the 1.18% range for several years. He asked the group to consider what was the impact to the local communities from the work in his department. Each day $1/4 million comes into Carlton County from Federal and State sources which goes for elderly care, nursing homes, group homes, hospitals, grocery stores, fuel providers, support workers, administration, and more. It adds up to $80 million yearly, funding for many Carlton County residents and their way of life.

Acting Auditor/Treasurer Kathy Korteum explained that a property tax refund is available for many property owners in the County. Unfortunately, only 1/3 of those eligible take advantage of that State program. Also, the property tax payers are encouraged to take advantage of the circuit breaker tax refund if their property taxes go up by more than 12% in a given year. This refund has nothing to do with your income status.

 

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