County considers 4 percent tax levy increase

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a maximum 4-percent preliminary increase in the tax levy.

The preliminary levy passed on a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Jim Nelson, Chris Shoff, Glen Mathiason and Mike Lee voted yes. Dan Belshan voted no.

The levy would increase taxes $28 on a $100,000 residential homestead property and $40 on a $100,000 non-homestead property.

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Taxes would increase $127 on commercial property valued at $200,000 and decrease 11 cents on an average acre of homestead tillable ag land. Taxes would decrease 23 cents on a non-homestead acre of tillable ag land.

The levy could decrease before it is set in December, but it cannot increase, per state law.

Freeborn County Financial Manager Pat Paquin said the proposed increase comes after the three-year deal for the city of Albert Lea to contribute $210,000 each year for dispatch services ended. Insurance costs and the costs incurred in hiring public safety, public health and human service department employees are also playing a role in the proposed increase, Paquin said.

In voting no, Belshan said he would not support the proposed levy increase because of other local tax increases and the state of the local economy.

“Because local governments and watersheds continue to tax more in spite of a shrinking population, a mediocre farm economy and loss of local jobs in industry and health care, I oppose any tax levy increase on property,” he said.

Interim Freeborn County Administrator Kelly Callahan said a preliminary balanced budget also passed on a 4-1 vote, with Belshan being the lone no vote.

After the vote, Lee told Paquin he wants to see the proposed tax levy decrease before it is finalized in December. He said on Wednesday he wants a lower levy amount to help people who are struggling in Freeborn County.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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