ST. PETER — Nicollet County property taxpayers will likely see a 5.25% increase in the tax levy next year. Much of the increase is to cover rising health insurance costs, wage increases and new employees.

The County Board Tuesday approved the preliminary levy, which can be lowered but not raised when the final levy and budget are decided. A public comment meeting on the levy is set for Dec. 5.

County Administrator Ryan Krosch said the county expects a 10% increase in health insurance claims next year. The county, which is self-insured, expects about $4.3 million in claims will be made next year but budgeted a bit more — $4.5 million — in case more insurance claims come in.

He said that after wages, health insurance is the largest cost in the county’s $44.5 million budget next year.

The county also added 2.5 positions in the health and human services department and one in the technology department.

Board Chair Denny Kemp, who was on the budget committee that came up with the preliminary budget and levy, said the new employees filled voids the county had as health and human services sees more work and as added technology requires more tech staff.

“I believe the requests (from department heads) had merit, made sense,” Kemp said.

The tax levy would raise just over $23 million with the remainder of the budget funded by state and federal funds and fees.

Krosch said the taxable market value in the county has gone up $111 million this year, with 35% of that new construction, much of it in North Mankato. He said most homes and commercial and residential properties are likely to see their taxable values increase next year while farmland values will be flat.

Of county taxes paid, 52% will come from residential properties, 33% from ag land and 15% from commercial industrial property taxes.

Krosch noted that since 2015, when farmland prices were high, the share of ag taxes has shrunk with more of the burden put on residential owners and commercial/industrial properties.

For a home valued at $150,000 that has no market value increase in 2020, the additional taxes would be $8 next year. A similar home that sees a 5% value increase will pay $53 more in taxes.

Commercial/industrial properties, which are expected to see about a 6% value increase, and are valued at $530,000, would pay $389 more in property taxes next year.

He said most farmland taxes should remain unchanged.

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