St. Louis County set to pass 1.5 percent property tax hikeSt. Louis County commissioners are expected to approve a 1.5 percent property tax hike for 2014 today, matching the same increase for 2013.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
St. Louis County commissioners are expected to approve a 1.5 percent property tax hike for 2014 today, matching the same increase for 2013.
County staff is proposing a $113.4 million levy budget for 2014, up from $111.7 this year and $110 million in 2012. That’s the budget paid for by local property taxes and covering things like law enforcement, road maintenance, snowplowing and other basic services.
The board meets in Ely for what will be its last meeting of the year.
Overall, the county will handle an estimated $319.6 million in 2014, with more than $200 million of that being so-called “pass through” money from the state and federal governments, much of it to fund social services such as health care and financial assistance, as well as major road and bridge construction.
In September, the County Board set 1.5 percent as its highest possible tax increase, although the board still could vote to do less than that. Either way, it will be the fifth-straight year of the county budget rising by less than the government rate of inflation.
The extra money for the coming year will be spent on increased debt service to start paying for the complete refurbishing of the Government Services Center in Duluth, a $22 million project just under way. The county is paying for the project, as it does most major construction, by issuing bonds paid back over time, much like a mortgage.
The 1.5 percent increase will raise the county’s share of property taxes on a $150,000 Duluth home by about 90 cents per year and raise taxes about $2.80 per year on a $150,000 home on the Iron Range. That doesn’t include any tax increase by township, city or school districts.
That’s less for each property than last year’s similar-size levy increase, thanks to a growing economy and, reversing a recent trend during the Great Recession, increased property value or tax base in the county. Despite the levy increase, many homeowners may see their tax go down, county officials said, thanks to that increased property value and to more money from the state intended to offset property taxes.