Local governments in the Douglas County area are proposing property tax levies for 2020 that are all over the board when compared to other taxing entities in the state – some are higher, some lower and others about the same.

Douglas County’s preliminary levy would result in a 6.5% increase, which is greater than the 4.9% average increase of counties statewide, according to a report from the Minnesota Department of Revenue that compiled tax levy information from throughout the state.

As with other taxing entities, Douglas County could decide to lower – but can’t increase – its preliminary levy after holding its “truth-in-taxation” hearing, which took place Thursday, Dec. 5 after the newspaper’s deadline.

Ten of the 11 cities in the county are proposing levies that are well under the 7.5% average increase of cities statewide. The exception is the city of Brandon, which is proposing a 2020 levy of $243,000 – 20.9% more than the 2019 levy of $201,000. Brandon increased the levy to pay for a street and infrastructure improvement project after holding a public hearing on the issue.

Four cities are keeping their levies the same next year – Carlos, Kensington, Miltona and Nelson.

Six other cities are also under the statewide average: Alexandria – 4.9%, Garfield – 3.6%, Osakis – 3%, Forada – 2.8%, Evansville – 2.1% and Millerville – 2.1%.

Proposed levies by school districts in the Douglas County area vary widely. Two districts are under the statewide average increase of 7%: Osakis with 5.1% and Parkers Prairie, which is proposing a 1.4% decrease.

Other school districts are above the state average: West Central Area at 10.8%, Alexandria at 11.1% (this includes the levy referendum that was approved in November) and Brandon-Evansville at 59.9%.

The B-E levy increase includes $7.27 million in air quality improvements that were approved by the district last August, according to Superintendent Don Peschel.

The Alexandria School District is planning to decrease its preliminary levy of $16.46 million to $16.36 million, according to Trevor Peterson, the district’s business director. This would amount to an overall levy increase of 10.37% instead of the 11.1% figure listed in the report. Aside from the voter-approved levy of $1.66 million, the rest of the levy items accounted for a decrease of $125,651, Peterson added.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue annually releases a list of the preliminary maximum property tax levies that have been reported by local governments and have been passed by local school referenda on Nov. 5.

The preliminary amounts are used by counties to compute parcel-specific property tax estimates for 2020, which are mailed to property owners in November in the form of truth-in-taxation notices. The notices also list meeting times and locations for residents.

These meetings are an opportunity for residents to provide input to local leaders on their levies and on how they are proposing to spend tax dollars. These 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 2020 property tax levies by Dec. 30. The final levies can be set lower, but not higher, than preliminary levies.

For 2020, preliminary property taxes statewide will increase $540.4 million, a 5.2% increase. Last year, preliminary statewide property taxes increases totaled $560 million, a 5.7% increase, and last year’s final levy increase was 5.4% ($524 million).

City levies

The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for cities will total approximately $2.71 billion compared with a final levy of $2.52 billion in 2019, a 7.5% increase. Here are local numbers (2019 numbers are listed first, then 2020 proposed levies, followed by the percent increase):

Alexandria – $6.99 million, $7.33 million, 4.9% increase.

Brandon – $201,000, $243,000, 20.9% increase.

Carlos – $183,284, $183,284, no change.

Evansville – $257,532, $263,022, 2.1% increase.

Forada – $142,757, $146,757, 2.8% increase.

Garfield – $155,985, $161,593, 3.6% increase.

Kensington – $54,430, $54,430, no change.

Millerville – $21,000, $21,450, 2.1% increase.

Miltona – $135,990, $135,990, no change.

Nelson – $36,000, $36,000, no change.

Osakis – $737,500, $759,750, a 3% increase.

County levies

The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for counties will total approximately $3.45 billion compared with a final levy of $3.29 billion in 2019, a 4.9% increase.

Douglas County – $27.24 million, $29 million, 6.5% increase.

School levies

The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for schools will total approximately $3.32 billion compared with a final levy of $3.11 billion in 2019, a 7% increase.

Alexandria – $14.82 million, $16.46 million, 11.1% increase.

Brandon-Evansville – $923,822, $1.48 million, 59.9% increase.

Osakis – $1.75 million, $1.84 million, 5.1% increase.

Parkers Prairie – $1.25 million, $1.24 million, a 1.4% decrease.

West Central Area – $2.21 million, $2.45 million, a 10.8% increase.

Township levies

The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for townships will total approximately $269 million compared with a final levy of $258 million in 2019, a 4.1% increase.

Special taxing districts

The 2020 preliminary property tax levies for special taxing districts will total approximately $406 million compared with a final levy of $393 million in 2019, a 3.2% increase.