It’s a very taxing time of the year
It is that most special time of the year.
And, I don’t mean the celebration of Christmas and the whole holiday thing.
No, I mean the special time of year when our local governmental officials settle on a budget and then tell us how much of our money they need to operate next year.
It is property tax levy time.
School districts, County Boards, City Councils and others first set a preliminary budget for next year and then figure out how to get the money to pay for everything in that budget. That was done in September.
Some, but certainly not all, of the money required comes from property owners in the county in the form of taxes on their homes, buildings and land.
We property owners in the county received a notice in the mail a while ago that outlined the proposed taxes for next year from the government bodies which serve us.
The form tells us how much the tax will be for the school district, city, township and county is proposed to be.
On the bottom line of the form is the total tax bill. Mine, for instance, shows a modest $6 overall increase in the property taxes on my house in Blue Earth for next year.
The problem is, of course, that this total may or may not be accurate. In fact, it probably is not correct and is not what I will actually pay for taxes next year.
That is because the numbers are all based on the “preliminary” budgets and “proposed” tax levies for next year, and these numbers were created back in September.
Now, in December, the government bodies are setting their “real” budgets and tax levies.
Those new numbers are supposed to be no higher than the preliminary figures from back in September and are usually lower.
In Wells, for instance, the preliminary tax levy increase proposed by the City Council was first at a 24 percent hike, then lowered to 17 percent. Last Monday, the council cut that number nearly in half, to 12.96 percent, for the final figure.
In Blue Earth, the council is working to lower their preliminary number of 13 percent down to a target amount of around a 3-percent increase.
The county started with a 2.9 percent increase.
There are, of course, a host of other things that affect how much you are going to pay for property taxes.
The value of your home, for instance. On the form from the county you can see the estimated market value. That amount is decreased by something called homestead tax credit, if you live in the house yourself.
If your estimated market value goes down, and the homestead exclusion goes up, the overall affect is that your taxable market value will be lower and you should pay less tax.
Likewise, if more homes and business buildings are built in your town (or anywhere in the county) it will affect your tax because there will be more folks to help share in paying for all that tax levy and your share should be lower.
The bottom line is that we need to wait until next year when the county auditor mails us the “real” property tax forms that will tell us all what we are actually going to have to pony up next May and October.
Also on the preliminary form is information on when and where each body will meet for their Truth In Taxation meeting. That is where you can hear what the new budget and tax levy will be and can air your opinion about it.
The one for the city of Blue Earth is Monday, Dec. 15 and the one for Faribault County is the next day at 6 p.m.
Usually, not many citizens show up for these public hearings.
But, it is our job at the Faribault County Register to go to them, cover the meeting, then tell you just what your local governments are up to and planning for a budget for the next year, and how much they intend to tax you for it the following year.
Sometimes that is not so easy to figure out, but it is important information for you to have, so you can figure out your own personal budget for 2015.
You will see more about tax levy increases in the next issue of the Register.
Thanks for reading us.