County lowers tax levy hike to 5%

 

Residents in Le Sueur County can expect to pay less in county taxes than the amount printed on estimated tax statements. At the Budget and Levy meeting (formerly known as Truth-in-Taxation) held Tuesday evening, the five commissioners voted in a split decision to reduce the tax levy increase from nine percent discussed in September, down to five percent. 
County Administrator Darrell Pettis presented the proposed 2013 budget and levy to the audience in a comprehensive 25-page document showing that the .65 percent tax increase would increase the county’s total expenditure budget from $30.7 million in 2012, to $30.9 million for 2013. He said initially, the levy was set at 12 percent, but through budget meetings with the goal of lowering that number, it was dropped to nine and then to five percent. 
Pettis commented on how Program Aid from the State of Minnesota has been greatly reduced over the past few years, resulting in fewer dollars for county expenditures. The proposal also showed exactly where the levied tax dollars would be spent.
District 3 Commissioner Joe Doherty opened the Public Hearing for the proposed levy and budget and asked for comments from the audience, of which there were none. The levy was voted on first, and was approved with a 3-2 split vote. District 1 Commissioner John Grimm and District 4 Commissioner Clifford Wetzel were opposed. 
Grimm explained his position, saying: "Although I appreciate the effort in lowering the levy to five percent, I disagree with the philosophy that taxes can go up every year.  We should set it at zero and make that happen."
District 5 Commissioner Steven Rohlfing followed that by commenting on the increased costs for roads and services, stating: "Five percent seems large but equitable to the needs of our county. I don’t want to sacrifice services. I’m happy with the five percent."
District 2 Commissioner Joe Connolly added: "We’re a long way from where we started."
The commissioners then voted on the proposed 2013 budget, which was approved with a 4-1 vote, Grimm opposed.