There's a steady tattoo of news in greater Minnesota newspapers these days, echoed in a Minnesota Public Radio report, Cities could raise property tax to make up for state budget cuts.
Will voters remember thse stories next fall when the Republican party and its homophobic allies beat their hackneyed drum about "rural values"?
MPR's Mark Steil reports:
According to projections by non-partisan state House legislative staff, the budget deal could lead to property tax increases of 4.6 percent statewide. Communities outside the Twin Cities would see the biggest jump, about 6 percent on average. Metro area taxes would rise about 4 percent.
Cities in south central Minnesota could see the biggest increase, about 7.3 percent. Property taxes in the Iron Range and Duluth are projected to rise 7.2 percent, while in east central and southeast Minnesota the hike will be just under 7 percent. . . .
Steil cites suburban Republican leigslators who disagree with the nonpartisan staff, but in looking at local reports around the state, Bluestem thinks the legislative staff might be on to something. And if no property tax shifts are coming, then there's belt tighten for the already slender.
From west central Minnesota, the Monte News reports in Administrators say compromise delays resolution of budget problem:
The state of Minnesota is beginning to function again following a 20-day government shutdown that was resolved last week when Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a number of bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The new biennial budget has been widely criticized by DFL legislators and the Independence Party of Minnesota as once again deferring rather than solving the chronic state budget deficit.
That perspective seems to be shared by city and school officials here. The American-News asked Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones and Montevideo Superintendent of Schools Luther Heller for their reactions to the budget.
City of Montevideo
“The main impact on the city for 2011 is that we have to cut $326,000 from our existing 2011 budget,” wrote Jones in an e-mail. “Staff has sat down this week and has a plan in place. . . .
What does that mean in concrete terms?
“We cut funds for items such as plow trucks, mowers, heavy equipment, police cars, park improvements, park maintenance, trees, computer equipment and building repairs and upgrades,” he wrote.
The city will face a similar revenue shortfall in 2012, according to Jones.
“For 2012 we will also have $326,000 less than anticipated, so the capital improvement fund will continue to be underfunded for future equipment, replacement and repair needs. Very little, if any part-time summer help will be hired, and except for needed maintenance projects, upgrades and major repairs could be delayed.
“Our real fear is for 2013 and beyond. Because the state chose to delay real reform, we will go through this same scenario in 18 months, and we will be weaker and less financially able to weather the storm in 2013 than if they had made all the necessary changes now.”
The headline up in Detroit Lakes? DL prepares for disappearing state aid: A conservative budget. The news:
The ever-changing local government aid and market value credit are changing once again.
City Finance Officer Lou Guzek told council members to plan on only getting the amount for LGA that the city received in 2010, about $550,000, even though it is slated to receive $690,500 in 2012.
Guzek said if the city should happen to get the full amount promised by the state, he recommends the unbudgeted $140,000 be put into the debt service fund.
“I’d take the conservative approach and budget with the $550,000,” he said.
For market value credit, in 2011, cities will receive what they did in 2010, and next year “it disappears as a payment to the cities,” Guzek said.
The city budgeted for $202,000 in MVC in 2011.
For 2011, the city levied about $3.4 million in taxes. That came half from residential and half from commercial or “other” properties.
But with recent changes in market value, if the city levies for $3.4 million again next year, commercial properties will feel the squeeze much more than homeowners.
Homeowners won’t see much of an increase at all, but commercial property will see about a 12 percent hike in city taxes.
Guzek said that cities without LGA will also be without MVC, so it doesn’t affect the larger metro cities that already don’t receive LGA.
“We’re out fighting this battle by ourselves,” he said. . . .
DL-Online's editorial board called it as they saw it in Mn tax shift is anti-business:
We know the state is in a tight financial bind, but this is just plain bad tax policy that could really hurt greater Minnesota, and especially businesses in greater Minnesota — and the jobs they provide.
Rural Minnesota lawmakers should push for a change to this stink bomb of a tax law when the Legislature meets again next year: Property taxes are already a major concern of small business owners, and this change just makes it worse.
Lawrence Schmumacher at PIM's Capitol Report has more (including news of the affects of the budgt here in Hutchinson) in Local governments look to hedge LGA uncertainty.
Driving Republicans to distraction
No wonder the legislative majority's leadership has to carrying on about how Ballot measures are key part of GOP agenda , as Briana Bierschbach reports elsewhere in PIM:
The passage of the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage was the defining moment of the final days of Minnesota’s 2011 legislative session, and the first modern Republican-controlled Legislature is gearing up to bypass DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature again next year and add a few more to the 2012 ballot.
After a gubernatorial veto last session, a move to put voter photo identification on the ballot is already afoot. And during internal caucus negotiations on the special session budget deal, a group of hard-line House Republicans exacted a promise from leadership to pass an amendment to require a legislative “super-majority” to raise taxes in exchange for their budget votes. In addition, GOP Capitol hands say there are eager talks about throwing a right-to-work amendment into the mix.
Perhaps those distractions will prompt rural Minnesotans to pay no attention to those job-killing property tax hikes.
Photo: Mayberry RFD.