County board OKs budget, levy

by Tom Coombe -

St. Louis County commissioners finalized both a 2018 budget and a slight property tax increase this week.
Commissioners, at their final meeting of this year, unanimously approved a $397.9 million county budget as well as a $132 million tax levy.
The tax levy amounts to a 4.45 percent incease, although a four percent increase in the county’s property base will offset much of the impact of the levy hike on taxpayers, according to county officials.
The county released projections showing that the levy would result in a $1.12 tax increase on the county portion of the property tax statement on a $200,000 home.
A news release issued by the county indicated that next year’s county budget was designed “with a focus on maintaining and building upon core services.”
Those include public health and human services, public works, taxpayer services and public safety.
The 2018 county budget also provides additional funding for substance abuse and mental health, and infrastructure projects. It also makes additional investments to support families providing foster care, offset state funding cuts impacting vulnerable adults, and supports programs serving youth.
About a third of the annual budget comes from county property taxes.
Commissioner Keith Nelson, who chairs the Finance Committee, said, “In all my years on this Board, this budget is one of the ones I’m most proud of because of the challenges that were in front of us in this community, and those challenges were many. This budget meets those challenges.”
The 2018 budget is available online at stlouiscountymn.gov.budget. St. Louis County serves 200,000 residents spread across 7,000 square miles. More details are available at stlouiscountymn.gov.
The county raised its levy by over eight percent from 2016 to 2017, and earlier budget discussions focused on a hike of around six percent this year before it was pared.
The county is set to collect about $6 million more in property taxes across the spacious county next year.