DULUTH — St. Louis County Board members were unanimous in their approval of a maximum 2.93% property tax levy increase — which is expected to be offset for many homeowners by recent growth in the county's property tax base.

The past year included about $237 million in new construction — mostly residential, according to the county. This was a factor in the 11% growth in the property tax base. Homeowners with little fluctuation in property value could see a reduction in property taxes. A county resident whose $250,000 house has no change in value might pay nearly $130 less in county property taxes, according to the county.

"I look at this budget and to describe it in one word, it's stability," commissioner Keith Nelson said in a news release. "Inflation is eating at our constituency and it's also eating at the costs here in St. Louis County. To be able to come in at a 2.93% proposed levy increase is reflective of some of the help we received from the state."

The levy increase will bring in nearly $168 million and will go toward ongoing county programs, responding to inflation, staffing and capital needs, according to county administrator Kevin Gray, who offered a presentation during Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting at the St. Louis County Courthouse.

More than half of the levy is divided between public health and human services and public safety, according to Gray, while 1% goes to economic development. The benefactors include those looking to collect film incentives.

"This levy reflects our continuous goal of minimizing property tax impacts while preserving or improving the services we provide to our citizens," said Gray.

Commissioners will vote on the final budget — which will not exceed the 2.93% and could be smaller — during a meeting on Dec. 19. The maximum preliminary levy certification is Sept. 26. Counties in Minnesota have until the end of September to set the maximum property tax levy.