St. Louis County Board hears complaints on tax hikesThe fact that St. Louis County Commissioners are directly responsible for only 1.8 percent of any property tax increase they’ll see in 2012 didn’t matter to some homeowners Thursday night who just wanted someone to hear their gripes.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
The fact that St. Louis County Commissioners are directly responsible for only 1.8 percent of any property tax increase they’ll see in 2012 didn’t matter to some homeowners Thursday night who just wanted someone to hear their gripes.
The County Board held the second of two public input sessions on their proposed 2012 budget and tax levy at their chambers in the Duluth courthouse with about 30 people in attendance.
County Administrator Kevin Gray spent about 45 minutes outlining the county’s plan to raise the property tax portion of the county budget by 1.8 percent for 2012 to about $109.5 million.
Much of that increase will go to a gravel road improvement program and to pay for increased costs for regional corrections programs.
But many homeowners and businesses have seen property tax estimates for 2012 showing much higher increases, many into double-digit increases, thanks in large part to a new state tax law that eliminated the homestead property tax credit.
The average St. Louis County homeowner will see a 6 percent increase in their taxes just because of the state action — on top of the 1.8 percent county hike and in addition to any increase in their school district and city levies.
“We never hear talk of decreasing taxes. It’s always about going up. When is it going to end? When is enough enough?” said Mike Ehlert of Alborn.
Ehlert, one of seven people who spoke at the public meeting, scolded commissioners for contributing to his 15.23 percent proposed property tax hike for 2012 even when the taxable value of his property declined 21 percent.
“Combined with the money I lost from the state tax credit going away, any increase you do is more than I can afford,” Ehlert said.
Tom Stanigen said he drove down from Side Lake north of Chisholm because he was so angry at the never-ending appetite of government to spend more.
“Mine (property taxes) have tripled in the last eight years,” he said. “When you raise taxes like this, it’s a double whammy because the businesses you tax have to add it on and we all have to pay it again.”
“It has to stop,” Stanigen added. The county’s increase of “1.8 percent
doesn’t sound like much, but you have to remember you add that on to what you did last year and the years before.”
County commissioners will give the 2012 budget one more review Tuesday in Duluth before casting the final vote that will formally set the amount spent and taxes raised.