The Otter Tail Board of Commissioners held a public hearing to hear from the public about the tax levy increase for the 2019 fiscal year on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

County Auditor Wayne Stein gave a presentation on the tax levy and the history of the tax budget for the public who attended.

The total proposed property net levy for 2019 is $41,517,762 which is a difference of $2,028,694 from the 2018 net levy of $39,489,068. The total net levy includes the HRA (Housing and Redevelopment Authority) and LID (Local Improvement District).

“These are all things that are considered as we adopt a budget and a levy,” Stein said. “We have a general fund, a roads and bridges fund, human services fund, capital improvement fund, we also do financing for the Viking Library, and our debt service that we do have and then there are a number of special revenue funds that we have budgets for.”

The presentation also showed the long-term debt history of Otter Tail County. This debt will amount to $37,785,000 by the end of 2018. According to Stein, this is significantly less than the amount of debt counties around allowed to accrue.

There was one county resident who spoke at the meeting, asking questions of the county board by the name of Oliver Harrison, specifically questioning the increase of funds to the HRA.

“The approximate half a million dollars is going to be an addition to the HRA, how did you come up with that figure? Why wasn’t it more? Why wasn’t it less?” Harrison asked.

Both commissioners, Douglas Huebsch and Wayne Johnson responded to Harrison’s question.

“How the budget community looked at this is, we need some money for economic development,” Johnson said. “The HRA levy is a vehicle you can use to get there. Do we know how many houses we are going to help with $500,000? No.”

Johnson also said they will decrease the amount of money going to the HRA levy in the future if it looks like the amount is excessive.

The Otter Tail County commissioners will vote on the tax levy at 11:15 a.m. at the Dec. 18 meeting.

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