Most schools and cities in Douglas County are planning only modest levy increases in 2021 – and some are proposing to reduce their tax bite.
Of the 11 cities in the county, only one, Evansville, is proposing an increase that's higher than the state average, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Revenue on Nov. 12.
Evansville set a preliminary levy for 2021 that’s 8.9% more than this year’s levy. The statewide average is 4.5%.
Three of the five school districts in the area are planning tax levy decreases.
The levies, which were set and sent to the state this fall, are preliminary. They may be decreased – but they can’t be increased – before final budgets are approved. The taxing entities will hold truth-in-taxation hearings next month before voting to adjust or approve them.
Here are the preliminary levies of cities in Douglas County compared to this year: (The statewide average is 4.5%.)
Alexandria – $7.38 million, up $78,911 or 1.1% from $7.3 million.
Brandon – $251,600, up $8,600 or 3.5% from $243,000.
Carlos – $183,210, down $74 from $183,284.
Evansville – $247,967, up $20,331 or 8.9% from $227,636.
Forada – $151,628, up $4,871 or 3.3% from $146,757.
Garfield – $161,626, up $3,307 or 2.1% from $158,319.
Kensington – $54,430, no change.
Millerville – $21,879, up $429 or 2% from $21,450.
Miltona – $135,990, no change.
Nelson – $36,000, no change.
Osakis – $767,347, up $7,597 or 1% from $759,750.
Douglas County set its preliminary levy at $29.14 million, an increase of $710,808 or 2.5% from this year. Statewide, county levies increased by 1.5%.
Three of the five school districts that include parts of Douglas County are proposing to reduce their levies next year. That’s a departure from the statewide numbers that show preliminary school levies are increasing 2.4%.
Here are the preliminary levies from local school districts compared to this year:
Alexandria – $16.29 million, down $71,234 or 0.4% from $16.36 million.
Brandon-Evansville – $1.51 million, up $55,901 or 3.8% from $1.46 million.
Minnewaska – $4.36 million, down $75,613 or 1.7% from $4.44 million.
Osakis – $1.85 million, up $62,194 or 3.5% from $1.78 million.
Parkers Prairie – $1.19 million, down $44,849 or 3.6% from $1.24 million.
About the levies
Preliminary levies are used by counties to compute parcel-specific property tax estimates for 2021, which are mailed to property owners in November in the form of truth-in-taxation notices.
The notices also list truth-in-taxation meeting times and locations for residents.
The meetings, which take place between late November and late December, are an opportunity for Minnesotans to provide input to local leaders on their levies and on how they are proposing to spend tax dollars.
The meetings are required for cities with populations over 500, counties, school districts, regional library authorities and metropolitan taxing districts.
After input from citizens, local governments must set their final 2021 property tax levies by Dec. 28, 2020. The final levies can be set lower, but not higher, than preliminary levies.
For 2021, preliminary property taxes statewide will increase $271.4 million, a 2.5% increase. Last year, preliminary statewide property tax increases totaled $541 million, a 5.2% increase, and last year’s final levy increase was 4.5% ($474 million).
Townships also set preliminary levies. Statewide, the 2021 preliminary property tax levies for townships totals about $280 million compared with a final levy of $269 million in 2020, a 4.1% increase.
Douglas County will hold its hearing on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the 822 Douglas Street building (the former First Lutheran Church).
The city of Alexandria’s hearing is set for Monday, Dec. 14 at 7:15 p.m. at City Hall.
The Alexandria School District will hold its hearing at the beginning of its 7 p.m. meeting on Monday, Dec. 21 at the district office, 1410 South McKay Ave., in the Oak Conference Room.
The Osakis School District’s hearing will take place Monday, Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m., immediately following the regular meeting.
The Brandon-Evansville School District’s hearing is Monday, Dec. 21 as part of the board’s regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.