In final action on the county tax levy this month, Dakota County decreased the 2014 levy by 0.6 percent from 2013.
The levy will bring in $128,377,938 in taxes.
Decisions by the County Board to reduce operating spending by nearly $40 million since 2009 and to become self-insured to manage health care costs have kept county property taxes among the lowest in Minnesota.
An increase in state aid and federal reimbursements, as well as a new sales tax exemption for most purchases made by local governments, also contributed to the levy reduction, which amounts to a drop of about $11 on a median-priced home in the county.
Mayor asks County Board to reconsider stance
Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz appeared before the Dakota County Board on Dec. 17 to make a personal plea that the county reconsider its intention to ask state legislators for approval power over city tax increment districts.
Kautz said Burnsville and the county had a history of good communication and cooperation on tax increment districts, and she objected to the legislative initiative because, she said, it would give the county veto power over city tax increment projects.
Although Kautz said the city and county would be lobbying against each other on the issue at the Capitol, the county board declined to drop it from its list of legislative priorities.
County Board Chairwoman Kathleen Gaylord said the county would continue to cooperate with cities on these matters but wants to protect against the loss of its own taxing authority on projects it may not support.
Tax increment districts are used as a tool to promote redevelopment. They capture the increased tax revenue from new development and use it to pay off bonds that helped finance the project. Burnsville anticipates creating another one on land overlooking the Minnesota River just west of Interstate Hwy. 35W, Kautz said.
While a tax increment district is in existence — usually quite a few years — the county, school district and city in which the project is located do not collect regular tax revenue on the project.
Event at food co-op will focus on healthy eating
Valley Natural Foods will host a free event from 5 to 7 p.m Jan. 7 that's aimed at encouraging families to adopt healthy habits in the new year.
Activities will include snowshoeing led by a Dakota County Parks instructor, with snowshoes supplied by the parks department. There also will be free tastings and healthy meals for sale in the deli.
The goal of the event is to teach children that eating healthy, nutritious foods can be fun along with getting them to enjoy exercise. Valley Natural Foods donates funds to Westview Elementary, Northview Elementary, Dakota Ridge School and Sioux Trail Elementary for their participation in the program.
The Burnsville co-op is at 13750 County Road 11.
County appoints assessor
Longtime Dakota County Assessor Bill Peterson has retired. Peterson was appointed county assessor in 1998.
County Commissioners appointed Teresa Mitchell, also a longtime employee in the department, as the new county assessor. She has served as interim assessor since October and will have the full title beginning Jan. 1. She has a four-year appointment.
The county assessor's department determines the value of all 155,000 parcels in the county, visiting each in person at least once every five years. The office is also responsible for classifying property.
Stream Global, T.J.Maxx earn workforce accolades
The Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board recognized serveral businesses at its Dec. 13 annual event.
Stream Global Services of Eagan received the 2013 Business Champion award for using WorkForce Center services such as job fairs, job postings or training.
The recognition said: "In 2012, Stream moved its corporate offices to Eagan and established a facility for call center operations. Locally, it has made a significant impact working with WorkForce Centers, Inver Hills Community College and Apple Valley High School. Very quickly, company staff connected with the WorkForce Centers and became a valued partner in recruiting job seekers by being the Business of the Day and participating in job fairs and mini job fairs.''
T.J.Maxx received the Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services award for preparing young people, ages 14 to 21, to enter the workforce.
T.J.Maxx and store managers Michelle Schlosser from its Burnsville site and Barbara McGregor from its Eagan location were nominated for assisting youth for more than three years.
Over the past three years at the two locations, T.J.Maxx has provided internships for about 20 youth in the program, many of whom were hired permanently after their internship.
Donation will help replace baseball bleachers
The city of Apple Valley received $50,000 from the estate of Norlyn Smith to be put toward the purchase of new bleachers for baseball games at Legion Field.
City Council members thanked the Smith family and noted that Smith had enjoyed watching summer youth baseball games at the field.