Scott County Justice Center (copy)

Scott County’s Government and Justice Center.

A preliminary tax levy set by Scott County officials this week shows the county tax levy will increase by less than 4% next year and the county tax rate will drop slightly.

The Board of Commissioners approved a $71.12 million preliminary tax levy for the 2020 year during a board meeting Tuesday. The preliminary levy shows a $2.7 million increase —or 3.95 %—from this year’s levy. The preliminary levy is used to send early property tax notices in November, though the final tax levy won’t be set until a vote by the Board vote in December.

A levy at $71 million will bring the tax rate down from 33.84% this year to 32.61% next year. The reduction represents a seven-year downward trend in the tax rate from a rate of 40.7% in 2013.

Deputy County Administrator Danny Lenz said 53% of residents will see a decrease in the county portion of their property taxes with the preliminary levy amount.

The county estimates that 19,527 properties will see a decrease of somewhere between $10 and $49, and roughly 800 properties will see a reduction greater than $100.

Lenz said the majority of residents with increases would see something like an additional $1 to $100 on their taxes. An estimated 3,559 homes will see a larger than $100 increase in their county taxes.

Lenz told commissioners the county’s $4.39 million in increased expenses is consistent with five-year plans for the county, though a $1.69 million increase in revenue is slightly lower than expected for next year.

“That is a little bit lower than we expected going into the budget process and what we’ve typically modeled,” he said. “We’re going to keep an eye on that.”

The projected revenue increase is lower than what they’ve had in recent years, he added.

The uneven rate at which expenses and revenues are increasing creates a $2.7 million gap for the tax levy to fill. Lenz said about 80% of the county’s changes in operating costs can be attributed to employee salaries and benefits, which are expected to rise by roughly $3 million next year.

Separate from that amount, the county is setting aside $325,936 for public safety staffing increases for the dispatch center and Juvenile Alternative Facility. They also plan to spend $100,000 on the construction of a new Minnetonka medical examiner’s facility that will serve Scott, Dakota and Hennepin counties.

A budget workshop has been scheduled for Oct. 29. A planning workshop will take place on Nov. 22. The budget is scheduled to be approved on Dec. 17.

The board also approved the 2020 budgets of both the Scott County Community Development Agency and Scott County Watershed Management Organization. A $13.28 million budget and $3.45 million dollar tax levy was approved for the development agency. A $1.68 million budget and $1.25 million levy was approved for the watershed district.

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