September 13, 2011
Linnea Mirsch,Deputy Administrator
St. Louis County Courthouse
Duluth, MN (218-733-2747)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
St. Louis County Board Establishes Maximum Levy for 2012
The St. Louis County Board adopted a maximum preliminary levy of 1.8% or $110 million at its board meeting this morning. State law requires counties to certify their maximum preliminary levy for the 2012 budget this week. The adoption of the final capital and operating budget will take place at the December 13th board meeting, at which point the county may reduce, but not increase, its levy.
The 1.8% increase, appreciably below benchmark inflation rates, supports new investment in gravel roads and the board’s ongoing commitment to public safety through its membership in the joint Arrowhead Regional Corrections. In limiting the proposed levy increase to these two areas, County Administrator Kevin Gray recognized the county board’s commitment to a balanced budget that positions the county for future fiscal challenges and minimizes state impacts to our taxpayers. He also acknowledged the efforts of county staff to absorb significant state and federal aid and other revenue decreases and increased costs.
While the focus was on establishing the preliminary maximum levy, there was also a focused discussion on the Homestead Market Value Exclusion, a state tax policy change approved during the special session. Administrator Gray noted the impact of this state tax policy will exceed the cumulative impact of the last three years’ levy increase to county property tax payers.
The board focused their discussion on the work of the county to remain focused on core services while continuously improving citizen services and respecting the challenging economic environment. In adopting a maximum increase of 1.8% the county board has committed to working with staff to balance the budget consistent with their goal to minimize property tax increases. Commissioner Keith Nelson, Chair of Finance and Budget, recognized this proposed budget as another step in St. Louis County’s legacy of financial excellence. He went on to recognize the county leadership team for offering solutions to this challenge, not problems, and further stated, “We will continue to work to attain or even lower this number while working with our regional public safety partner, Arrowhead Regional Corrections to address our shared goals.”
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