State Cuts Lead to Increased Property Taxes, Lack of Improved Service

By KBJR News 1

November 5, 2012 Updated Nov 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM CDT

You may not notice a difference on your roads, schools, and safety, but you have noticed a steady increase in your property taxes.

Property taxes continue to rise, yet many people complain that public services have not improved.

With each turning season, Albert Lopez finds joy in his retirement home.

"It's just a good place to raise a family."

But he also finds higher property taxes.

"It went from $800 a year to $1,200 a year in twelve years," says the Canyon, MN resident.

In the last ten years, property taxes in St. Louis County have gone up every year, except for 2005.

And that doesn't include city taxes, or the levies and referendums that voters approve.

In 2012 alone, voters passed about $300 million in extra property taxes across the state of Minnesota.

State Senator Roger Reinert says cuts on the state level are to blame.

"If the state cuts Local Government Aid, if the state cuts county aid--which it has substantially; if the state borrows $2.3 billion from the K-12 schools; where do they have to go? Property taxes. Almost exclusively."

"Since 2002, we've experienced a 12 to 15 million dollar reduction," says St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich.

Dicklich says the drop in state funding has forced them to make internal cuts and raise property taxes. But he says, he doesn't see it getting any better at the state level.

"The state still has a budget deficit, they still have a problem, and they are taking all this money back and keeping it. So where is all this money going?"

Reinert says the state has made cuts as well, but the problem lies in the fact that the state has not loosened its requirements on local governments.

"The state has made lots of cuts, but what they haven't done is cut back what they require local government to do."

But all the taxpayers see is an increasing bill.

"Why should it have doubled in 12 years? What have they increased as far as services are concerned?" says Albert.

The county says they're giving the same level of service, they are just doing it more efficiently.

Reinert says it is great that cities and counties are coming up with better ways to do things, with less money, but services are still suffering.
And Albert doesn't know how much longer his fixed income can support the rising taxes.

"Its getting to be harder and harder every year."

Courtney Godfrey
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