Two tax decisions: Same result from opposite directions

Two Minnesota communities chose the property tax status quo on Tuesday but perhaps with opposite motivations.

In one case, the city of Nowthen decided not to raise taxes, thereby reducing their law enforcement protection. In the other, Brooklyn Center voters chose not to let taxes fall so they could maintain school spending.

After hearing from many of Nowthen’s 4,400 residents, the city council Tuesday night voted 3-2 not to include in its 2012 budget a $250,000 tax increase. That means it won’t contract with the sheriff for law enforcement, and the sheriff says that will cause him to patrol less than he does now.

Councilwoman Laurie Olmon left the door open to reconsidering after the city tries this for a year. “I’d rather take a stand and say no, I’m not going to tax our citizens for something that we’re getting overpriced for,” she said.

Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart has threatened to sharply reduce service in Nowthen next year, if the city doesn’t start paying for public safety. Stuart proposed a contract that would have increased the city’s budget by 25 percent.

Meanwhile, not far away, voters in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center chose by a wide margin to approve a levy after defeating ballot questions eight times in a row. The decision means an existing levy remains in effect and school officials won’t have to make $600,000 in budget cuts.

More on that by reporter Curtis Gilbert here.

We have a lot more on how Minnesota communities are making decisions in austere times in our Forced to Choose section.

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