2011 property tax levies set

Over the last few weeks, local government units have been busy holding state-mandated budget hearings and setting the budget and the 2011 property tax levies. The levies by law must be set by the end of December.

With a large state deficit resulting in less local government aid and school aid the last few years, many local units of government are finding their budgets squeezed and have worked hard to maintain services with declining budgets. In other words, Doing more with less.

Two local government units, Rice County and the New Prague Area Schools, have set levies which are a net decrease from the 2010 levy. Rice County's levy was a 0.11 percent reduction, while New Prague's represented a 7.93 percent reduction.

Three other governments approved levies that grew by less than two percent - New Prague will have a 1.9 percent increase in its levy, Scott County 1.6 percent and Le Sueur County 1.08 percent. Elko New Market had an increase of 3.7 percent and Lonsdale 5 percent.

Property taxes will likely go down or stay stable from last year, according to figures presented at the various meetings. For instance, the school's share of property taxes on a $200,000 home in the New Prague School district will be $974, a decrease of $31 from last year. Even if the levy increased, that won't necessarily translate to an increase in taxes. Some Scott County homeowners could see a slight decrease in the amount of taxes they pay for county government.

The most significant change in the levy is the 7.93 percent decrease in the New Prague School district. Sandy Linn, the district's finance director, said that there were several reasons for the decrease, including several prior year adjustments, and an uneven principal and interest schedule for the district's debt service, which will go down for the next two years before jumping again in 2013.

2011 area property tax levies

New Prague 3.8 million +1.9 %

Elko New Market 1.8 million +3.7 %

Lonsdale 1.5 million +5 %

Scott County $60.5 million +1.6 %

Le Sueur County $13.2 million +1.08 %

Rice County $18.8 million (-0.11 %)

New Prague Schools $9.8 million (-7.93 %)

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