Commissioners adopt a 5.18 percent tax levy increase

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

On Dec. 19 the five-person Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners approved a final net county property tax levy of $51.2 million for 2024. This represents a 5.18 percent net tax levy increase compared to the 2023 net tax levy. 

The county board also approved a 2024 budget of $142.3 million. Approximately 36 percent of the budget is funded with county property tax dollars. 

“The additional needed funding,” according to County Auditor-Treasurer Wayne Stein, “comes from the state and federal governments as well as other local non-property tax revenue sources.”

Stein said that as the tax capacity increases through growth in new businesses, new residents and new homes, there is the potential for the county’s tax rate to lower.

“This can, in some situations, result in a property owner’s share of local property taxes paid being less than the prior year.”

County commissioners (Board Chairman Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids, Dan Bucholz of Perham, Bob Lahman of Parkers Prairie, Kurt Mortenson of rural Underwood and Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls) again praised the departments in county government for seeing the impacts of inflation and taking reasonable restraint to work within the parameters of the 2024 budget.

The five county commissioners also adopted net property tax levies for the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority ($1.5 million), county Community Development Association ($541,800) and four Lake Improvement Districts ($214,945).

Included in the Otter Tail County budget for 2024, according to Stein, are county taxpayer funds for the following:

• Health and wellness (public health, human services, veterans’ services and county extension)

• Economic growth and community (highways, land and resource management, parks and trails and solid waste)

• Safety and justice (emergency management, probation and law enforcement)

• Internal services (administration, human resources, facilities operations, information technology and geographic information systems).