Property tax news

Local governments across Minnesota have now adopted proposed budgets and tax levies for 2015. Here are some notable developments from around the state:

The Cloquet school board approved a 14 percent preliminary tax levy hike for 2015. Major levy increases are nothing new for the district, as they approved a 15.2 percent hike last December. According to the Pine Journal, the district’s business manager explained, "the district has experienced a 12 percent increase in its health insurance costs over each of the last two years, which he expects to actually increase, because the district will be forced to offer health insurance to more employees under the Affordable Care Act."

The Stillwater Area School District set its 2015 preliminary tax levy at $37.8 million, a staggering $2.5 million increase over this year. The Stillwater Gazette reports that the district’s Director of Finance told the school board, "That might seem slightly startling, because it was kind of a shock to me at first too." And like many districts, Stillwater is taking advantage of new taxing powers granted by Governor Dayton and the legislature: "Instead of levying the $14 million voter-approved referendum, the district is only levying $10 million in that category. However, the extra $4 million is being added to the non-voter-approved levy, because the state gave the district that extra authority."

The City of Cottage Grove approved a $13.4 million preliminary property tax levy for 2015, a 5.5 percent hike over this year. Personnel costs in Cottage Grove are expected to hit $9.9 million next year, an almost 29 percent increase since 2012. General fund spending is projected to be 19 percent higher next year than in 2012.

Roseville approved a 3.6 percent preliminary levy increase. "The median valued home in Roseville in 2015 is $216,500, an 11 percent increase from 2014, according to the 2014 Ramsey County assessor's report. The owner of a median-valued home in Roseville would pay about $71.40 in property taxes each month in 2015, an increase of $6.54 per month from this year."

In Rochester, the school district approved a 9.88 percent preliminary tax hike, which is actually substantially lower than the earlier proposal of a 17 percent levy increase. The city passed a 6.9 percent increase, and Olmsted County passed a preliminary 3.25 percent increase. The school district’s levy alone would add $54 a year to the property tax bill on a $200,000 home.

Final tax levies for cities, counties, school districts, and special taxing districts will be adopted and certified late December following truth-in-taxation hearings.

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