The Sherburne County Board Tuesday voted, 3-2 to approve the 2024 preliminary levy in the amount of $60,355,133.
That represents a 3.25% increase over the 2023 levy.
Administrator Bruce Messelt said the county has seen $172.5 million in new construction countywide and is expecting the tax base to grow by approximately 7.7%.
He said with the increase in the tax base, the average-valued county property of $355,000 would see a tax increase of about $4 a month as a result of the levy increase.
When it was time for the board to vote, Commissioner Andrew Hulse read a statement about why he had reservations about the levy increase.
He said property taxes by nature are unfair because homeowners don’t see any actual revenue stream when their property values increase, although they still have to pay the tax increase.
Hulse said the board needs to consider what is really necessary when it comes to spending tax dollars.
“It is not the job of this board to rubber-stamp every spending request that comes before it. It is the role of this board, or any executive board, to ask tough questions and demand good answers and accountability,” he said. “This board is vested with the awesome responsibility to ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely for the good of the residents of the county and stretched to its very limit. This county, in my opinion, has lost sight of the difference between wants and needs. When everything is a priority, nothing is.”
Hulse voted against approving the preliminary levy, as did Commissioner Gregg Felber. Commissioners Raeanne Danielowski, Gary Gray and Lisa Fobbe voted to pass the levy.
The final levy is due by the end of the year. The Truth in Taxation meeting is Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. in the County Board Room, where county officials explain how taxpayer levy dollars are spent.
The board approved an agreement renewal with Lockgridge Grindal Nauen PLLP (LGN) and Primacy Strategy Group (PSG) for lobbying services on State and Federal legislative and executive issues at a cost of $48,000.
The board approved a budget amendment to the Low Interest Loan Program budget to increase available funding for septic repairs from the current $500,000 to $700,000. The program allows qualifying residents with failing septic systems to apply for a low interest loan which are paid back as a special assessment at an interest rate of two percent. To date, the county has approved 14 loan applications totaling approximately $470,000 in loans.
In other actions the board:
• Accepted the fiscal year 2024 Crime Victim Services Grant in the amount of $83,200;
• Accepted clothing donations from Community Corrections and Judicial Branch staff to Clothing Closet for clients and their families at no cost to the county;
• Proclaimed Sept. 17, 2023 as Constitution Day, commemorating the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787 and recognizing all who are born in the U.S. or have become citizens by naturalization.