“If the state would just give us more money, we won’t have to raise property tax rates!”
As chairman of the Minnesota House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from a city or county elected official or the people their government pays to help them secure more state money.
The claim sounds nice but the reality is complete hogwash.
Just one year ago, lobbyists for local governments came to our committee and assured us that if we included a combined $40 million per year increase for Local Government Aid (LGA) and County Program Aid (CPA), city governments would ease property taxes at the local level.
So much for that.
The 2018 certified property tax levy totals are in, and they are embarrassing.
According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the certified totals for all local governments have escalated $455 million, or a 5.4% increase. Specifically, city property tax levies are up 6.2% and counties have jumped 4.1%.
In short, we gave cities and counties what they wanted, and it still wasn’t close to enough. It is now indisputable that no matter how much money we dump into LGA and CPA, it will do nothing to lower your property taxes.
But what does work is delivering property tax relief directly to the people.
According to nonpartisan analysis from the Minnesota House Research Department, Minnesotans were scheduled to pay $121 million less in property taxes thanks to new reforms included in our $650 million tax relief law. People owning every type of property benefited, especially residential homeowners, farmers and rural Minnesota small businesses.
Say what you will about LGA and CPA, but never again do I want to hear that a funding infusion into these programs will lead to lower property taxes because doing so does not convince the locals to stop looking for new ways to spend your money.
It’s time to start investigating the future of LGA, because this program is broken and it will not be fixed unless we act. With these certified levy numbers, the likelihood that your property taxes are rising – again – is strong, and pouring tens of millions into this program did nothing to stop it from happening.
To learn more about the 2015 Certified Property Tax Levies, including a table outlining the changes for your community, visit: http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/propertytax/Pages/ptlevies-18c.aspx.