DULUTH — St. Louis County Council is set to finalize its 2023 budget after giving initial approval of its preliminary maximum property tax levy on Tuesday. Commissioners will vote on final approval of the maximum levy increase of 4.39% on September 27.
However, many property owners may not feel the brunt of this increase, as the county also saw an estimated 17% increase in net fiscal capacity, according to County Administrator Kevin Gray.
The impact of the tax, offset by increased tax capacity, on homeowners would be an average decrease of $74 in county taxes on a $100,000 home, a decrease of $110 for a house worth $150,000, a decrease of $148 for a house worth $200,000 and a decrease of $185 for a house worth $250,000 depending on the county, assuming that the value of the house remained the same. This does not include any increase by city, township, or school district, which also appears on your tax bill.
Commercial properties have seen less overall assessment growth and will therefore see less of an impact on county property taxes, according to Gray.
Reasons cited for the increase include inflation, the need to continue to fund employee salaries and benefits, and to maintain investments in mental health and addictions services.
“Like everyone else, we are experiencing the significant impacts of inflation and rising costs driven by supply chain challenges. Fuel costs alone have increased by more than 50%, which is especially significant when you remember that our public works and sheriff’s office vehicles cover our 7,000 square mile county,” Gray said.
Other improvements such as investments in improved medical services at the county jail, technological improvements, and economic development efforts were also cited as primary reasons.
Commissioner Keith Nelson, chairman of the board’s finance committee, also cited the state legislature’s failure to pass a bail and tax bill, as he said it would have helped. to compensate for the increase.
“While any increase in levy concerns me, this number is reasonable, responsible and reflects the times we live in,” Nelson said. “Our state partners failed the county government and the communities we serve by failing to pass a tax bill and a bond bill. Despite a $9 billion surplus, they let local government units do in the face of budgetary challenges.
The largest share of the dollars raised in 2023 will go to public health and social services, at 32% or $52 million, and public safety, also at 32% or $52 million. Public works comes third, accounting for 18% of the budget, or $29 million, 14% goes to general government works, about $29 million, and 4% of the fund will go to debt servicing.
Today’s vote in Committee of the Whole was unanimous in favor of increasing the levy. The final vote on the preliminary maximum drawdown will take place at the next general meeting of the Board of Directors on September 27 at Fine Lakes Town Hall in Wright.
Minnesota counties are required by law to set their property tax maximums by the end of September. As the Board and staff work to finalize the 2023 budget over the next few months, the royalty amount can be reduced, but it cannot be increased.
Commissioners will vote on the final budget on December 13. The public can ask questions and comment on the levy (not necessarily on specific property tax bills) at meetings scheduled for Nov. 21 at the Virginia County Courthouse and Nov. 28 at the Courthouse. from Duluth, both at 7 p.m.