Because 2020 was a historically difficult year, Hennepin County board commissioners voted to approve a zero percent tax levy increase for this year’s budget. This year, the board has approved a 3.5 percent increase in the property tax levy to pay for $900 million of next year’s $2.4 billion county budget.
County Administrator David Hough recently said two factors figured large in the tax increase: uncertainty surrounding future federal and state funding and a decline in property tax revenue.
A chill in the air
Hough had chilling words for owners of commercial properties: “While the county’s residential real estate market remains strong, the commercial and industrial market continues to be challenged by the impacts of COVID-19.”
The tax-hike news in Ramsey County is worse – especially in St. Paul. The city’s mayor has asked for a 6.9 percent property tax increase for next year. Ramsey County wants a 1.5 percent increase and the St. Paul School Board has proposed a 3.1 percent hike in property tax. The total: 11.5 percent.
The Star Tribune reports that the Hennepin County board has raised the county’s property tax levy by an average of 4.6 percent each year since 2015.
Hennepin County funding includes . . .
- $72 million: road, bridge, light rail and trail infrastructure
- $95 million: health and human service program support and parking expansion for Hennepin Healthcare
- $42 million: safety and justice facilities
- $52 million: to build anaerobic digester facilities to process household and commercial waste
The county will also add about 294 full-time employees to bring total staffing to more than 9,000 full-time employees.
Ramsey County won’t feel singled out
County Board Commissioner Debbie Goettel indicated that Ramsey County cities aren’t the only ones that should brace for multiple tax hikes. She said Hennepin County cities and school boards will be asking for increases as well.
“There are still a lot of hard economic times coming. We will be budgeting through a pandemic for the next five years.”