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From the Editor’s Notebook:

By Staff | Dec 1, 2019

It is ‘that’ time of year.

No, not the holiday season of Thanksgiving to Christmas, and then followed by New Years. Although actually it is, indeed, that time of year as well.

And, if you are like our family, you spent some of Thanksgiving Day talking about when to have the family Christmas, because there just is not much time between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day this year. In fact, when our family left on Thursday, they all said “See you in three weeks for Christmas!”

But, I digress.

I am also not referring to the change of seasons from fall to winter. Although, to be honest, that change was not sharply defined this year. It feels like it has been winter already for quite some time and it isn’t even December yet. To top it off, winter doesn’t even officially begin until Dec. 21. I am afraid we are in for a long one, folks.

But, again, I digress.

The time of year I am actually referring to is tax time, and specifically property tax season.

If you own property in Faribault County (or elsewhere in Minnesota or the rest of the country for that matter) you probably received your ‘proposed’ property tax statement for 2020 in the mail last week. The key word on that statement is ‘proposed.’

The actual taxes you will pay will be on a statement to be sent out later, sometime in 2020. The actual tax amounts on that statement could be different than these proposed ones…or not.

This statement reflects what your city, county and school district decided to have as a starting budget and tax levy number back in September. The number they set back then cannot be raised, but can be lowered.

So, that means your actual property tax statement amounts could be lower than the proposed amounts on the recent statement.

If your statement is anything like mine, you don’t have much to complain about. The county taxes on my house are up a little, the city of Blue Earth is up some, but not a lot, and the Blue Earth Area School District tax is actually down.

The net result is my overall tax for next year went up 2.1 percent.

Or, should I say, it will go up a maximum of 2.1 percent. It could actually be lower than that, if the city, county or school lower their levy amount this coming month of December.

At any rate, I don’t have much to complain about.

I do realize, however, that other residents in the county might have a reason to complain.While we all face the same county amounts, perhaps the city, school or township where you live has a larger proposed increase. Or the estimated market value of your property was raised. Or there were more, or fewer, homes, businesses or land to spread the levy amount over. And, then there could be those special assessments that get thrown in sometimes, as well.

It can be complicated.

You can learn more, however, because all the local governmental units are required to hold a Truth in Taxation meeting. Those meetings’ times, dates and locations are included on your proposed tax statement. For instance, the one for the county is Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. at the County Board room at the courthouse. Many cities and school districts hold them as part of their regular monthly meetings.

At these meetings, residents can learn more, as the elected officials will go their budget and talk about what was cut and what was added. You also have the right to ask questions, or even give input. At the end, they will set the final budget and the tax levy percent of increase (or decrease) to make that final budget work.

Unfortunately, not many citizens show up for these meetings. Perhaps it is because they think their elected officials are doing a good job of being fiscally responsible. Or, they just don’t want to take the time to go.

But, if you want a chance to give your own opinions about the proposed budgets or the property tax levys, these meetings are the perfect time to show up, learn more and give your feedback.

If you can’t get to the meeting, reporters from the Faribault County Register will be attending the meetings of the three largest cities in the county, both school districts and the County Board. We will give you those final property tax levy increase (or decrease) numbers in future editions of the Register.

In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season, the winter season (if you can), and try not to worry too much about it being proposed property tax statement time.

After all, you know what they say are the only two things which are inevitable. Death and taxes.

And, while you can’t do much about death, you can speak up at a Truth in Taxation hearing about your taxes.