The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 5, 2007

Property tax rankings released

Eagle Lake fares well

MANKATO — They’re only about 10 miles apart on Highway 14, but Eagle Lake and Janesville are on opposite ends of a recently released ranking of property taxes across Minnesota.

Homeowners in Janesville faced the 20th highest property tax rate this year among 226 towns in outstate Minnesota studied in the annual rankings by the Citizens League. In Eagle Lake, by contrast, homeowners found themselves with the 187th highest rate — the lightest burden of any city in south-central Minnesota.

Eagle Lake Mayor Tim Auringer said city officials were aware that they compared well to other cities in Blue Earth County.

“We’ve kind of known that for a while,” said Auringer, who was pleased to learn it’s also true for a broader region. “It’s kind of been a feather in our cap, the piece that kind of made us proud.”

This is the first year Eagle Lake, Janesville and scores of other cities have been included in the Citizens League study. The League, which does a second ranking of cities in the Twin Cities metro area, added more than 120 cities to its two studies this year — now looking at all towns with populations of 2,000 or more.

Civic boosters in Janesville might have preferred to wait a couple of more years. At the 20th highest tax rate, Janesville topped all of the cities in The Free Press’ south-central Minnesota coverage area.

It’s not just about city government, of course. People who feel gored by property taxes are actually getting poked by a three-tined fork — the school district, the county and either a city or township. The Citizens League rankings show the combined impact of all three.

But Janesville City Administrator Clinton Rogers said the city’s budget has been moving in the right direction the past three years, and many property owners are seeing the city portion of their property taxes fall.

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