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County tax levy will likely increase 3.48 percent

Otter Tail County taxpayers will be seeing a smaller increase in their taxes in 2018 than they did in 2017.

During the county board's annual levy and budget hearing, held Dec. 12, board members and County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein said the percent of levy increase from 2017 to 2018 will likely drop, from 4.86 percent to 3.48 percent. At press time, a final decision was slated be made during the regular meeting of the county board on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 9:30 a.m.

"The overall county budget for 2018 is $105.1 million, but due to federal and state aid we only need to levy for $39.1 million for this coming year," said Stein. "The taxable market value in Otter Tail County for 2018 is $9.9 billion. County board members pledge to only levy for dollars that are truly needed to maintain the wellbeing of county residents."

The population of Otter Tail County is currently 57,297.

"Most county residents are well informed about services provided," said Stein, "which include human services, public health, road and bridge maintenance, capital improvements and other services."

A large portion of the 2018 county budget is $37.6 million for public works. Funding is needed for highways, land and resource management, and solid waste. A total of $27.6 million is earmarked for community services, which includes public health, human services, probation, veterans' services and county extension. Additional taxes can include funds needed for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Lake Improvement Districts.

"The needs of Otter Tail County vary on a year-to-year basis," said Stein. "Examples include changes in technology, building improvements such as recent enhancements needed for the county jail, updating election equipment and purchases of new county vehicles."