Anoka County Board cuts tax levy more than $1 million

The Anoka County Board has decreased its net property tax levy by more than $1 million for 2013.

The board Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution setting a gross tax levy of $131,036,164 for 2013 and a net operating budget of $241,580,236.

But when county program aid from the state and fiscal disparities revenues are subtracted from the gross levy, the net levy for 2013 will be $97,517,399, according to Cevin Petersen, division manager for finance and central services.

That compares with the 2012 net levy of $98,530,798, a drop of $1.013 million, Petersen said.

“The county board’s goal was to reduce the levy by $1 million for 2013,” he said.

The county will receive less program aid and fiscal disparities next year than it did this year, Petersen said.

Final action on the levy and budget won’t be taken until the board meets Friday, Dec. 7 following a public meeting Thursday, Dec. 6, 6 p.m., at the Anoka County Government Center.

But the preliminary levy cannot be increased; it can stay the same or be reduced still further.

According to Petersen, the levy reduction will result in a reduction of the county’s share of residents’ 2013 property tax bills for most low and moderate value homes.

Decreases in property values have continued since last year and the county’s taxable market value for all properties dropped 9.7 percent, while the decline in residential property values over the past year averaged 10.3 percent across the county, Petersen said.

Using an average taxable market home valued at $141,800 and a 10.3 percent decrease in taxable market value, the home would be valued at $127,195 for 2013 tax purposes, he said.

Under that scenario, the county’s portion of the tax bill would drop from $489.15 to $452.17, or $36.99 per year following the homestead value exclusion, according to Petersen.

If there was no change in the market value of the $141,800 home, the county portion of the tax bill would jump $34 from $489.15 to $523.15, Petersen said.

Petersen provided examples of the tax impact on two other homes in the county, figuring in the taxable value decline and homestead value exclusion.

For a home declining in value from $95,000 to $85,215, the county’s tax share would drop from $276.47 to $248,13, while on a home dropping in value from $290,000 to $260,130, the county’s tax bite would decline from $1,162.65 to $1,098.29.

If the taxable value on those homes remained the same as last year, Petersen said the county’s tax share would increase.

The proposed operating budget of $241,580,236 for 2013 is some $32 million less than this year.

According to Petersen, $30 million of that is because of completion of the Main Street project, which was primarily funded by state money.

Most department budgets are flat, Petersen said.

“This represents the second straight year we have reduced the levy,” said Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah.

In 2012, the tax levy was cut $8.15 million.

According to Sivarajah, the budget and levy will continue the county’s quality and efficient service.

This includes implementing Lean/Kaizen methods to identify and put in place the most efficient, value added way to provide government services, Sivarajah said.

There are also reductions in the debt service, which make up a “good portion” of the county levy each year, she said.

But the budget and levy also provide continued investment in technology and infrastructure projects, Sivarajah said.

And a second voluntary separation program for county employees has been implemented which is projected to save up to $500,000, she said.

According to County Administrator Jerry Soma, the county board set general targets for staff to follow and departments were asked to produce budgets that were “budget neutral.”

But a change was made this year in the budgeting process, Soma said.

Instead of the department proposals first being vetted by the staff budget team before going to the county board, the department requests went to the county board’s committees of jurisdiction for consideration and action, he said.

The committees of jurisdiction recommended approval of department budgets to the county board.

“The change was made to let the policy makers be policy makers,” Sivarajah said.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]