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Published December 08, 2011, 10:19 PM

Minn. House Speaker Talks LGA In EGF

East Grand Forks taxpayers will see a property tax increase in 2012 handed down from the state. House Speaker Kurt Zellers was in East Grand Forks Thursday where city leaders talked to him about tax increases and LGA funding.

East Grand Forks taxpayers will see a property tax increase in 2012 handed down from the state. House Speaker Kurt Zellers was in East Grand Forks Thursday where city leaders talked to him about tax increases and LGA funding.

The state of Minnesota has a surplus right now, but that doesn't necessarily mean more money will be coming in with Local Government Aid. The city has a number of projects that need a significant amount of money and Mayor Lynn Stauss doesn't want that burden to fall on the taxpayers.

"We know that the local taxpayer has to put some money into these projects, but if there is help from the state government or federal government, we want to look to those first," East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss said.

East Grand Forks will receive the same amount of Local Government Aid in 2012 that it received in 2011. But with big projects like the swimming pool, library, and sewer system all waiting for repairs, the city wants to see more money coming in.

"There's a possibility the state can put more money into sewer systems because many small cities are having the same problem and need to build new so they need help and that's what East Grand Forks is looking for too," Stauss added.

"In a lot of cases, we held it flat. What we haven't been able to maybe help with on the revenue side, what we're really looking at is on the expense side," Minn. House Speaker Kurt Zellers said.

Zellers says that can mean freeing up some LGA mandates.

"That will free up those dollars that are already there but just can't be spent in the way the city needs best," Zellers said.

The Marketvalue Homestead Credit was cut as part of the budget deal that ended the state shutdown in July. That will cause local property taxes to go up in 2012.

"And where that program was reduced a little bit, we actually then put $30 million into what's called the PTR program. It's property tax rebate program. And that's direct relief from the state of Minnesota right to the tax payer," Zellers said.

Zellers says if your taxes go up too high too fast this program will help take away some of that burden.

"As those levies are certified and those property tax statements come out, then the tax payer will know if that percentage fits into that PTR program, whether or not they can apply," Zellers added.

Zellers also talked a bit about the recent budget surplus. He says it was unexpected but welcomed. It didn't include sales tax revenue from the record-breaking Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, which he says could help the surplus increase into the spring.

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