By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
County commissioners, on Dec. 21, gave final approval to the 2022 tax levy. The net property tax levy of $45.4 million for 2022 represents a 4.71 percent tax increase compared to the 2021 levy.
Final action by the county board followed a truth in taxation public meeting that was held on Dec. 14 at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls.
Only one person spoke in opposition to the tax increase for 2022.
“Our constituents, in my opinion, generally believe that we as a county board are trying to use tax dollars wisely,” said Wayne Johnson, commissioner from Pelican Rapids.
Johnson and the other four commissioners (Lee Rogness, Betty Murphy, Kurt Mortenson and Dan Bucholz) take pride in holding public meetings on various topics, and try to be as transparent as possible about letting taxpayers know the dollar amounts.
“Budget requests for 2022 originally came in which would have resulted in a 6.43 percent tax increase for 2022, but we made the necessary adjustments to lower this to 4.71 percent,” Johnson said.
The entire budget for 2022 is approximately $137 million.
“This year our county work units were challenged to use employees in the most efficient ways as possible,” Johnson said, “before requests were made for new hires.”
Close to 34 percent of the county budget is funded with property tax dollars. The additional needed funding comes from the state and federal governments for budget items such as county road maintenance and county human services.
County taxpayers, in certain areas, also pay for Community Development Agencies, Housing and Redevelopment Associations and Lake Improvement Districts.
The structure of
• Economic growth and community investment: highways, solid waste, parks and trails, land management and community and economic development
• Safety and justice: county sheriff, county attorney, probation and emergency management and safety
• Finance, property and license management: auditor-treasurer, motor vehicle, recorder, assessor
• Health and wellness: public health, human services, veteran services and extension office
• Administration: human resources: IT, facilities, GIS and communications/public relations