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Tax bite not as deep in Douglas County

Douglas County residents will have a little less of a tax bite to swallow next year than other communities in Minnesota.

That's according to proposed property tax levies that local governments are pursuing. Although the levies don't translate directly into how much an individual property owner will pay in taxes, they do make up one piece of the tax puzzle.

Locally, Douglas County is proposing a tax levy decrease of 0.15 percent. Statewide, counties are pursuing a 1.7 percent increase, according to information released by the Minnesota Department of Revenue this week.

Other taxing authorities include cities or townships, school districts, sewer districts and Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.

The city of Alexandria, for example, approved a 2.82 percent increase. That's below the statewide increase of 3.1 percent.

There's another bright side to Alexandria's tax picture. According to City Assessor Reed Heidelberger, Alexandria's overall tax capacity is increasing 7.6 percent, from $13.7 million to $14.7 million, because more property and more value came into the city from the orderly annexation agreement with Alexandria Township.

That extra value will result in a decrease in taxes of about 10.6 percent for the average residential and commercial property in Alexandria.

The tax levy proposed by Alexandria School District 206 is also less than the statewide trend - 1.93 percent compared to the state total of 2.1 percent.

Statewide, property tax levies are proposed to increase an average of 2.3 percent if proposed local tax levies are adopted by local governments later this year, according to the revenue department.

The increase is based on maximum levy amounts proposed by local governments in advance of annual Truth-in-Taxation meetings, which began in late November.

Final levies will be determined following these meetings, which are required for cities with populations greater than 500, counties, school districts, regional library authorities, and metropolitan taxing districts.

The time and location of the meetings can be found on property owners' Truth-in-Taxation notice.

If the proposed levies are approved, property tax levies will increase in 2013 by $187 million statewide.

To date, levy referenda for operations or capital projects were held by 60 of Minnesota's school districts, many to renew existing levies that are scheduled to expire.

Statewide, 43 of the 60 at least partially passed. The results of these referenda are included in the revenue department's summarized data but their impact is not included on the Truth-in-Taxation notices that counties mailed to taxpayers in November.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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