Spending by Minnesota counties has been fairly flat over recent years when you take inflation into account and is even down a little from 10 years ago. Meanwhile, the portion of county money coming from local property taxes continues to inch upward.
That’s the long-term takeaway from the annual report by the state auditor on the finances of the state’s 87 counties. Auditor Rebecca Otto released the 83-page report today.
Counties spent $6 billion in 2010, most of it in four areas: human services, public safety, streets and highways and a category known as general government spending. Spending on human services has been declining over 10 years; public safety spending has risen.
Where’s the money coming from? Local taxes increasingly. The share of county budgets coming from taxes (almost entirely property taxes) was up to 45.6 percent in 2010. In 2002, the share was just over a third.
As anyone paying attention knows, state grants have declined as a revenue share during that period, from just under a third to about a quarter. But county revenue from federal sources has increased as a share, mainly because some human service grants have shifted from state to federal and because of federal stimulus spending.
You can find all the numbers, including some easy-to-grasp pie and line charts, in the report.
You can also check Ground Level’s Forced to Choose project on the taxing and spending dilemmas that local governments have been facing in recent years.