Board Sets Maximum Levies
Overall, not a bad day for HC taxpayers – but there’s still work to do…
Last week, the County Board set our “maximum levy” amounts for 2012. State law requires every local government unit to set the maximum amount it will levy for the upcoming year in early September. Once the maximum levy amount is set, the local government can still choose to levy less when it sets its final budget (usually in December), but it cannot choose to levy more.
Hennepin County has three separate levies – the general levy, the railroad authority levy and the housing authority levy. In 2011, the general levy was set at just under $650 million. The railroad levy was $18 million. The housing levy was just over $5.6 million.
Last week, the Board voted 5 – 1 (Gail Dorfman was absent and I voted no) to set the maximum general levy at an amount representing a 1% increase. I moved to set the max at the same level as last year, but was voted down 2 – 4 (with Randy Johnson joining me in voting “yes”). Keep in mind that the 1% increase (approximately an extra $6.5 million in tax revenue) is the maximum and the Board could decide to hold the levy flat – or even cut it – when we set our final budget.
The original proposal from the County Administrator was to set the maximum 2012 railroad levy at $21 million – just over a 17% increase from 2011. Commissioner Jan Callison successfully moved to cut that increase in half. I then moved to hold the maximum levy at $18 million (a 0% increase). That motion also passed on a vote of 4 – 2 (with Randy Johnson, Mike Opat and Mark Stenglein joining me).
The Board unanimously set the maximum housing levy at a 0% increase as proposed by the county administrator.
My goal in our final budget discussions will be to cut the levies by an amount that would hold the “average” Hennepin County homeowner harmless from a higher county property tax bill.