Hearings this month before governments set final levies

Local units of government are holding Truth-in-Taxation hearings this month prior to setting final levies payable in 2020.

Government entities have already set their preliminary levies, which show quite a range in Fillmore County with increases as high as 59.2 percent for the Kingsland School District while three school districts and one city have decreases. The figures are from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, which annually releases a list of the preliminary maximum property tax levies that have been reported by local governments and have been passed by local school referenda on Nov. 5.

The preliminary amounts are used by counties to compute parcel-specific property tax estimates for 2020, which are mailed to property owners in November in the form of Truth-in-Taxation notices. Truth-in-Taxation notices also list Truth-in-Taxation meeting times and locations for residents.

These meetings, which take place between late November and late December, are an opportunity for Minnesotans to provide input to local leaders on their levies and on how they are proposing to spend tax dollars. These meetings are required for cities with populations over 500, counties, school districts, regional library authorities, and metropolitan taxing districts.

After input from citizens, local governments must set their final 2020 property tax levies by Dec. 30. The final levies can be set lower, but not higher, than preliminary levies. The department will release final property tax levy information in February.

For 2020, preliminary property taxes statewide will increase $540.4 million, a 5.2 percent increase. Last year, preliminary statewide property tax increases totaled $560 million, a 5.7 percent increase, and last year’s final levy increase was 5.4 percent ($524 million).

Cities: The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for cities will total approximately $2.711 billion compared with a final levy of $2.521 billion in 2019, a 7.5 percent increase. In Fillmore County, preliminary increases range from 31.2 percent for Lanesboro to a decrease of 0.3 percent for Ostrander.

Counties: The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for counties will total approximately $3.455 billion compared with a final levy of $3.295 billion in 2019, a 4.9 percent increase. Fillmore County’s preliminary increase is 3.5 percent.

Townships: The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for townships will total approximately $269 million compared with a final levy of $258 million in 2019, a 4.1 percent increase.

Schools: The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for schools will total approximately $3.323 billion compared with a final levy of $3.106 billion in 2019, a 7 percent increase. Except for Kingsland, which had improvements to its facilities along with an operating referendum, Fillmore County districts are below the state average.

Truth-in-Taxation notices mailed to property owners recently do not include the results of levy referenda for operations or capital projects by 67 of Minnesota’s school districts.