Setbacks inflicted by excessive rain this year continue to mount. Among others, our resorts are sustaining significant financial damage and I am hearing some are shutting down for the time being. Gov. Mark Dayton was in Ottertail City yesterday to assess damage as we await word on whether a special session will take place this summer to provide emergency assistance. It will all come down to whether the cost of damage exceeds certain thresholds.
Meantime, I contacted the Army Corps. of Engineers today to make sure they are letting as much water as possible flow through the Orwell Reservoir south of Fergus Falls in order to manage the Ottertail River system that includes Rush Lake and Otter Tail County. They confirmed to me that, yes, they are letting water out as fast as possible.
In other news, we have received information from nonpartisan House research staff which shows our statewide property tax levies are projected to rise by $238 million, a 92 percent gain over last year’s increase of $124 million. This is disappointing, especially since we were told in 2013 that the $2 billion tax increase passed that year was designed to provide tax relief.
The bottom line is overall property tax increases are projected to rise by 3.3 percent in Greater Minnesota and 2.4 percent in the Metro area. Based on a statewide average, residential homesteads can expect a 3.8 percent increase and agricultural property is expected to jump 4.7 percent.
We also recently received word from Minnesota Management & Budget that state revenues for April, May and June were $235 million more than previously projected. This strong close to the fiscal year follows four months of revenue falling beneath projections.
In the final quarter, individual income taxes exceeded expectations by $181 million and sales tax receipts also were up. On the other hand, corporate tax revenue was $53 million behind the projected pace.
We are now $168 million ahead of projections since the last full economic update was released in February. This good news may only be temporary, however, since budget obligations toward Obamacare could send us back to a shortfall by the time budget work begins again in 2015.
Today marks 60 days from when the 2014 session ended and House rules stipulate legislators now must stop sending email updates like these until we get past the November election. But I can still respond directly to citizens, so please continue providing me with input on any number of issues. This could be especially important with anecdotes pertaining to area flooding.