State revenue officials estimate local property tax increases

Despite increases in funding for schools and local governments approved during  the 2013 legislative session, property taxes appear to be going up.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue released a list of preliminary maximum property tax levies today that shows increases in 2014 at city, county, township and school district levels.

The list is based on the preliminary numbers that local government officials must set by Sept. 15.  The department says after citizens weigh in, local governments can set final levies lower but not higher than preliminary levies. Final levies for 2014 property taxes are set by Dec. 27. The state releases its final information in February.

Here’s the preliminary Department of Revenue breakdown:

Cities - The 2014 preliminary property tax levies for cities will total approximately $1.967 billion compared with $1.927 billion in 2013, a 2.1% increase.

Counties - The 2014 preliminary property tax levies for counties will total approximately $2.745 billion compared with $2.704 billion in 2013, a 1.5% increase.

Townships - The 2014 preliminary property tax levies for townships will total approximately $234 million compared with $229 million in 2013, a 2.1% increase.

Schools - The 2014 preliminary property tax levies for schools will total approximately $2.377 billion compared with $2.317 billion in 2013, a 2.6% increase. School levies were set to decline by $59 million. Voters approved $119 million in new and renewed referenda, for a net increase of $60 million in 2014.

Special Taxing Districts - The 2014 preliminary property tax levies for special taxing districts will total approximately $328 million compared with $321 million in 2013, a 2.3% increase.

In a written statement, Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans noted that state and local leaders are working together to stop a decade-long trend of increasing property taxes.

“Property taxes are regressive, disproportionately affecting middle-class Minnesotans, and are levied without taking into account a taxpayer’s income or ability to pay the tax,” Frans said.

UPDATE:

Governor Mark Dayton said Wednesday that local government officials are ultimately accountable for any increases in property taxes next year.

The DFL governor said the preliminary increases are still smaller than they’ve been in several years.

“Anybody criticizing 2 percent is really ignoring recent reality. I still think the increase for LGA and County Program Aid and eliminating the sales tax for purchases by local governments and reinstating part of the Homestead Credit have really clearly had a beneficial effect,” Dayton said.

Dayton and Democratic lawmakers were counting on this year’s tax bill to trigger decreases in those taxes.