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County to decide on tax hike later this month

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners is considering a proposed county gross levy increase of 4.94 percent.

The proposals include a proposed gross levy of $32.95 million for 2011, up from $31.40 million in 2010. The net tax capacity rate will increase from 34.458 to 36.952 for most communities in the county.

At the latest board meeting on Dec. 14, County Auditor Wayne Stein said if the levy were to be approved, for example, the owners of a home valued at about $234,000 would pay about $53 more each year in property taxes.

County commissioners say the county is doing everything it can to hold down costs and always seeks input from county residents. The county has put a hiring freeze in place, and plans to lower the number of county departments and ongoing efforts to collaborate with neighboring counties to provide various services to county residents.

The county is also seeing increases in budget expenditures, most notably in public safety (law enforcement, courts and probation) from $10.79 million in 2010 to $10.82 million in 2011.

Decreases are recommended for highways and human services. The 2011 recommended highway budget is $17.69 million, down from $18.34 million in 2010. As for human services, the budget for this coming year, if approved by the county board, will be $17.06 million. That would be down from $17.58 million this year.

In comparison with the rest of the state, Otter Tail County ranks 57th out of 87 counties in taxes per capita, meaning there are higher taxes in 56 of Minnesota's counties.

Editor's note: Due to an early deadline for the holiday, results of the Dec. 21 Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners meeting were unavailable by deadline. Look for further coverage at