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Early indicator: Property taxes headed up

News Morris,Minnesota 56267
Morris Sun Tribune
Early indicator: Property taxes headed up
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

ST. PAUL – A preliminary report shows local governments plan to increase property taxes next year.

Tuesday’s Minnesota Revenue Department report indicates cities expect to raise taxes 2.1 percent, counties 1.5 percent, townships 2.1 percent, schools 2.6 percent and other taxing districts 2.3 percent. Within those overall statewide numbers, some governments expect increases, others plan tax cuts.

Locally, Stevens County passed a preliminary tax levy increase of 4.6 percent and the Morris Area School District passed a preliminary levy increase of 9.7 percent, while the city of Morris does not plan to increase it's levy. 

The numbers are the first indicators of where property taxes may go.

Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said that preliminary figures like those released Tuesday generally shrink before final property tax levies are approved by year’s end.

“We do know they always come down,” Frans said in an interview about the preliminary and final numbers, adding that there is no way to predict how much.

Tuesday’s report puts into question a prediction Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Frans made in July that property taxes would fall 1.5 percent in 2014.

Dayton and Frans credited 2013 Democratic initiatives such as increasing state aid paid to cities, counties and townships. The two predicted in July that after property taxes rose 86 percent since 2002 that next year will be the first time they have decreased in more than 10 years.

“This is reversing a decade-long trend,” Frans proclaimed at the time.

On Tuesday, Frans said that he will continue to work with cities and counties to find ways to reduce preliminary property tax numbers his department had just released.

Frans singled out Minneapolis and Dakota County for lowering taxes for 2014. “We are seeing some really good choices.”

But there was another side: “I am disappointed with some that raised their levies.”

The commissioner said his department will not know the precise property tax picture until February.

In July, Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that he doubted the Dayton and Frans predictions of tax cuts. He said local officials make property tax decisions and state officials could not predict what would happen.

Another tax figure released Tuesday showed better news.

Minnesota Management and Budget reported state October revenues were up nearly $56 million from expectations. Half of the jump came in individual income taxes.

“It confirms the trendline of our expanding economy,” Frans said, noting that higher employment reported in recent months resulted in more taxes.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.