Good Ol’ Hennepin County

October 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment


As usual Hennepin county is claiming they are “cutting” while raising our taxes, and, of course, it isn’t their fault according to the sun post;

Hennepin County’s property tax levy decreases for 2012

Same song, second verse. Hennepin County is tightening its belt but property taxes county residents pay could go up anyway. Cities were caught in the same situation as all public entities pushed to meet the late September deadline for certifying property tax levies. The bugaboo is a change to the Market Value Program the legislature enacted in special session earlier this year. The program provides property tax relief to lower-valued homes.

“In previous years, it was funded by the state,” said county administrator Richard Johnson in a presentation to the county board of commissioners Sept 27. “Starting in 2012, the program will be funded by higher-valued homes and commercial, industrial and apartment properties.” The impact will vary across the county with homes valued at more than $183,000 expected to have the biggest property tax increase. The change has been irksome for most cities and the county, which have been keeping their tax levies flat or reducing them for 2012. In the case of the county, the 2012 budget is 3.13 percent – or $50 million – less than 2011. The county’s actual property tax levy will raise at least a million dollars less this year over last.

Well, then why don’t you cut more money!!!

In a formal presentation to the commissioners, Johnson outlined a plan that lops 127 positions and eliminates the Eden Prairie Service Center. The facility is housed in the former Hennepin County Library in Eden Prairie and offers services ranging from driver’s license service to passports. Johnson said business has dropped at all seven service centers and told commissioners they are not mandated.

Service centers in Brooklyn Center, Maple Grove, Minnetonka and Edina, as well as two in Minneapolis, are not being targeted. The Northwest Family Services Center, a collaboration between the county, Osseo Area Schools and the Community Emergency Assistance Program, is also on target for opening in 2012. Johnson said thousands of residents are expected to use the facility each month.

So we are closing one, and opening another even though they are not mandated and business is down?

Money for predesign of new libraries in Brooklyn Park and Excelsior are in the 2012 budget. An initial design concept was presented in Excelsior in March but was rejected by citizens who said it did not fit the ambiance of the city. Commissioners said they were pleased that Johnson had been able to hold the line and trim spending in a tough financial year. Commissioner Randy Johnson, who represents Bloomington, southern Eden Prairie and Richfield on the county board, said the job is made even more difficult for the county than say a municipality because of mandates.

“We’re mandated to be in a number of lines of business where demand is going up,” Johnson said, mentioning financial assistance programs specifically. “Every year is the toughest budget year we’ve ever had.” Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who represents St. Louis Park and west Minneapolis, said the county was committed to continuing to respond to needs of its residents “even in these really tough times.”

Administrator Richard Johnson said the county is also hoping to reap rewards from long-term investments in programs that encourage children to stay in school, discourage teen pregnancy, reduce homeless numbers and reduce demand for future landfills. In total, the county is budgeted to spend nearly $1.6 billion in 2012, the bulk of that in operating budget. The county’s capital budget will be reduced to $118 million, $61 million less than 2011.

$1.6 billion budget and they are bragging about making cuts?

Johnson said that despite a sharp increase in basic-needs programs such as food support, the county is spending less on those programs. “We are reducing staffing even as caseloads and other responsibilities increase,” Johnson said. In July, the county had more than 129,000 residents receiving food support compared to 81,000 enrollees in July 2008. The final budget and property tax levy are expected to be adopted Dec. 13.

Have your say

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners will hold a series of public hearings on the proposed 2012 budget. All hearings will be held at the county government center in downtown Minneapolis.

– Monday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m. Topic: Health

– Tuesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. Topic: Capital Budgeting Task Force; Presentation/Fees

– Monday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m. Topic: Human Services and Public Health 1 p.m. Topic: Library andGeneral Government

– Wednesday, Nov. 2, 1 p.m. Topic: Public Safety

– Tuesday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m. Topic Human Services and Public Health (follow-up if needed)

– Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m. — Public meeting for budget and levy discussion

– Wednesday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m. Topic: Commissioner Amendments. Also Thursday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m.

Folks, we need to contact these people and tell them what we think!!!

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Entry filed under: Hennepin.

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