The Carlton County Board held its truth in taxation meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8, but no one from the public spoke or had questions about the 2021 levy increase.
The board plans to raise the property tax levy by about 2% in 2021, or about $565,000 over the 2020 level. The levy of approximately $28.8 million is the largest source of revenue for the county at nearly 43% of its total income. Program grants and fees paid to the county made up the bulk of the remainder, according to documents provided by county auditor Kathy Kortuem.
On the other side, the Public Health and Human Services Department and the Transportation Department were the biggest expenses for the county, accounting for more than 51% of the $70.3 million the county expects to spend in 2021.
Initially, the 2021 budget called for the levy to go up to $29.8 million, but the commissioners chose to spend just over $1 million of the county’s reserve funds instead of putting forward a higher levy.
Some of the factors leading to the increase include an 8.9% increase to the county's health insurance premiums and a 28.6% jump in its property and worker's compensation insurance costs.
County coordinator Dennis Genereau said the county would have needed to raise the levy by more than 5.5% to not use any reserves.
Instead, Carlton County taxpayers are seeing the smallest levy increase in “recent memory,” Genereau said after the meeting.
Kortuem said her office had received some written correspondence from taxpayers questioning the valuation of their properties, but no questions or complaints about the levy increase.
The county board will vote on the final levy during its meeting at 4 p.m. Dec. 28 at the Transportation Building in Carlton.