Editorial: County board needs to balance the load

Published 8:31 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

Daily Herald editorial

News that the state of Minnesota has reduced Mower County’s share of aid payments by $400,000 for next year means commissioners will have to come up with a plan to address the shortfall. Residents will have to hope that there’s a way to do so without passing along the entire $400,000 in the form of a tax levy increase.

The city of Austin encountered a similar challenge in 2011 when the state changed the way it distributes tax aid to cities. After discussing the matter for months, the city council — unable to identify savings in the city budget — ultimately passed the entire shortfall along to taxpayers in the form of a levy increase.

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Now all Mower County residents — including Austin property owners who were hit with the city’s big levy increase this year — will have to watch as the county board juggles spending and taxes in an attempt to find the best compromise. It is by no means an easy job, and it is thankless. But perhaps the commissioners — already planning to spend millions on remodeling county offices and the Law Enforcement Center — will be able to find some way to spare taxpayers from the brunt of the state’s policy change.