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Carver County Board Approves Preliminary Levy

Post Date:09/12/2018

CHASKA, MINN.—Carver County commissioners approved a preliminary 4.9 percent property tax levy increase to support the County’s preliminary 2019 budget.

County Administrator David Hemze presented the administrator’s recommended 2019 levy and budget during the commissioner’s regular meeting on Tuesday, September 4. The County’s budget supports essential services including 911 dispatch and law enforcement operations, court administration and prosecution services, road and bridge construction, maintenance and snow plowing, regional parks, libraries, health and human services, and several other key resources for County residents.

Hemze noted that the 2019 budget is significantly impacted by societal trends and cost shifts from the State to the County in support of health and human services, particularly increased foster-care costs for high-need children, and additional funding to address homelessness, family assistance, child protection services and associated legal costs.

“With the expansive growth the County has experienced, more fiscal demands have been placed upon our health and human services division. This budget balances those service needs against a manageable tax impact for our residents,” Hemze said.

The preliminary levy increase raises the County’s property tax on an average-valued home by $44 annually to $1,200, or 3.8 percent.

While County salary and benefit costs are projected to increase, the staff was able to identify $700,000 in cost-saving adjustments and new, non-tax levy revenue. The preliminary 2019 budget adds additional staff to meet service demands from the County’s increasing population, which recently surpassed 100,000.

The levy proposal of $56.3 million, which cannot be increased by commissioners but could be decreased when the board makes its final budget decision in December, is in the midrange of increases of similar metro and other comparable Minnesota counties.

Carver County has followed national trends, seeing its tax base increase more than seven percent over the last year to $14.5 billion. The average home in the County is worth $336,900, a 6.11 percent increase, while commercial property values increased 4.5 percent. Agricultural properties haven’t realized any increase, Hemze noted, after a string of robust growth years.

The preliminary 2019 budget is $146.9 million. It adds 10.30 new positions for the County, funded by under $400,000 in additional County tax levy. Hemze shared that the County’s tax supports 273 miles of roads, 71 bridges, and more than 1,000 acres of public lands. For each $100 the County collects in property taxes, $6.50 per month goes towards highway maintenance and $7 for the six city and four express libraries. Around $1 per month for each $100 supports the nearly 900 acres of protected parks and recreation areas throughout the county.

The preliminary 2019 budget includes $1.4 million from solid waste fees, a $765,000 water management organization levy, and $162,000 for the regional rail authority levy. The solid waste revenue increases $128,000 (from a proposed $3 per unit increase) and water management organization levy is proposed to increase $40,000 from 2018. The regional rail authority levy remains at the 2018 level.

A public hearing on the 2019 preliminary levy and budget is tentatively set for Thursday, November 29 at 6 p.m. in the Chaska Government Center’s board room. The board plans to vote on the final 2019 levy and budget at its regular meeting on Tuesday, December 11. The 2019 final levy can be lower than the preliminary levy, but it cannot be higher.

Citizens with questions about the 2019 levy and budget or long-term financial plan should contact Carver County financial services director David Frischmon at 952-361-1506. Information is also available on the Carver County Financial Services website.