Anoka County Board endorses more budget cuts

Hennepin and Anoka counties on Tuesday set their property tax levies, which promise generally flat budgets for 2013.

The Anoka County Board, which reduced its property tax levy by an eye-popping 7.4 percent a year ago, voted Tuesday for another budget reduction that will decrease property taxes by at least 1 percent in 2013.

The Hennepin County Board, meanwhile, gave itself a bit more wiggle room in approving a property tax levy ceiling of 1 percent, just as it did last year before cutting the final levy by about $1 million.

The maximum levies mark the level above which the boards cannot go for 2013. But they don't restrict the boards from approving lower levies.

The Anoka County decrease would translate to a $64.34 tax reduction for county residents who own homes valued at $290,000 and a $34.81 decrease for owners of homes valued at $130,000.

"From the very beginning we have said that we don't want the reductions to come at the expense of providing good services," Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah said. She vowed that the county would continue to provide those services, "but we're looking to provide those in a more efficient way."

The Hennepin County Board voted 4 to 2 for the 1 percent levy ceiling, slightly trimming County Administrator Richard Johnson's recommended maximum 1.3 percent increase.

A levy increase of 1 percent would amount to $6.8 million on top of this year's levy of $668.4 million for Hennepin's operating and capital budgets.

Before approving the 1 percent increase, the board rejected Commissioner Jeff Johnson's proposal to keep the levy flat for next year. Other commissioners supported the 1 percent levy ceiling as a preliminary action that was prudent and flexible, and only Jeff Johnson and Randy Johnson rejected the 1 percent increase.

The Hennepin County Board also approved maximum levy increases of 16.7 percent for the county's Regional Railroad Authority and 14.6 percent for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget and levies on Nov. 27 before finalizing the spending plans.

In Anoka County, a public hearing will be held Dec. 6 with a final vote to approve the levy the following day.

plevy@startribune.com • 612-673-4419 kduchschere@startribune.com • 612-673-4455

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