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Wabasha County proposes maximum levy increase

By Dawn Schuett

schuett@postbulletin.com

WABASHA — Wabasha County’s proposed property tax levy for 2008 is set at more than $11.2 million, an increase of nearly 25.3 percent from the tax levy in place this year.

The Wabasha County Board of Commissioners approved the maximum amount of the proposed tax levy during its regular meeting Tuesday. With that action, the proposed tax levy can only be decreased before it’s finalized in December.

Commissioners adopted the proposed budget for 2008 with revenues totaling $22,027,711 and expenditures at $21,983,789.

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The board also approved resolutions certifying separate proposed property tax levies of $88,461 for the Southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing Redevelopment Authority and $50,000 for SEMMCHRA’s Eagles Basin housing project in Wabasha.

An estimated $1.65 million of the proposed property tax levy is for debt service on the construction of the county’s criminal justice center. Work is expected to begin today at the building site.

Commissioner Eugene T. McNallan, board chairman, said the debt service is one of several variables that could affect the board’s ability to further reduce the proposed property tax levy and budget. He said the board had already taken measures to contain increases by postponing replacement of road graders for a year and delaying other capital expenses.

The debt service could be even higher than projected. The county has not yet settled any union contracts and the amount of federal disaster assistance to repair roads damaged by the recent flooding may not be enough, McNallan said.

"I don’t see this budget getting much lower," he said.

The property tax levy increase from 2006 to 2007 was about 10.9 percent, with the tax levy this year totaling $8,957,655.

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