Minn. lawmakers hope property tax help will stick

Published 9:38 am Friday, May 31, 2013

ST. PAUL — Minnesota legislators used to catching heat from constituents for rising property taxes that are largely out of their control think they’ve settled on a way to ease the blowback.

In their now-finished session, they heaped hundreds of millions of new dollars into state allowances to schools and local governments while also bolstering programs that supply direct-to-homeowner tax credits. Majority Democrats who crafted the new tax law signed last week also temporarily imposed limits on how much cities and counties can raise through local levies and restricted schools from seeking more money through tax referenda.

The caps mark a stark shift in direction for a party that railed against past efforts to tie the hands of local officials when it comes to taxes.

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“When you’re putting that kind of resources in, then I think it’s appropriate to ask for a one-year limit in the levy,” said Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook. “It’s appropriate to let all this stuff settle out for a year before we see other levy impacts.”

Because property tax levels are set the calendar year before payment is due, the moves virtually assure no steep climb in the tax bills voters will be facing when the 2014 election rolls around. Two months before that election, some homeowners also will get written notice from state government reminding them of tax credits they can claim.