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County increases taxes by 8%


Sun, Dec 10th, 2000
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Monday, December 11, 2000

The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners held a Truth in Taxation hearing at the courthouse last Thursday evening. Present at the meeting were four commissioners and eleven department heads, along with about seven citizens.

Board Chairman Gary Peterson explained to those in attendance that the purpose of the hearing was to gain public input on the proposed 2001 county budget. However, it soon became clear that all of the citizens who were present were there to complain about dramatic increases in their property taxes.

County Auditor Angela Burrs, who had prepared a well-organized written report, reviewed the proposed budget line by line, explaining the increases and decreases in each line item. The county portion of the tax levy will increase by 8% in 2001, while the state paid portion of the levy will decrease by 2%.

Overall, total revenues for the county will be up 23%, or $5,083,099. All line items on the revenue side, except for "other taxes" and "licenses and permits" will show an increase in 2001. The greatest revenue increase will come from state funding, a 32% increase.

On the expenditure side of the budget, every item, except for "conservation of natural resources," showed an increase. The "Airport and Highway" category topped the increases, showing a 35% rise over the year 2000 budget. Burrs attributed this highway increase to a rise in state highway funds for the county.

The "bottom line" of the budget shows a total expenditure increase of 22% over fiscal year 2000, with an expenditure total of $23,426,572 against a revenue budget of $23,026,885. The $399,687 budget shortfall will be covered by reserves and carry-forward balances (unspent monies) from the previous year.

A considerable time was spent at this meeting listening to the complaints of taxpayers who are seeing a sharp rise in their property tax. The assessorís office has been busy reassessing properties based on market value, and with a sharp increase in the value of Fillmore county real estate, some property owners have seen their taxes rise by more than 140%.

While sympathetic to the concerns of the citizens who were present, Chairman Peterson informed the group that the Truth in Taxation hearing is not the proper venue for taxpayer complaints about rising assessments.

For those who wish to appeal their property tax levy, there is a three-step process. The first level of appeal is at the City or Township Board of Review in April or May. The second level of appeal is at the County Board of Equalization during the last two weeks of June. The third level of appeal is the Minnesota Tax Court on March 31st of the year following the assessment.

The County Board will formally approve the budget at its December 12th meeting.

By Mike McGrath

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