Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

City news roundup for 12-17-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

Rochester expansion plan is a vision for urban and walkable development (Minnesota Public Radio)

The Green Line at 6 months: How's it doing? (Pioneer Press)

The Drive: Minnesota uses blue lights to combat red light running (Star Tribune)

Ask Us: Mankato, St. Peter tree lovers question city trimming practices (Mankato Free Press)

Faribault's vision begins to take form (Faribault Daily News)

Lino Lakes police will be city's new firefighters (Star Tribune)










Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Navigating the property tax system in Minnesota (No. 3) -- FAQs

To help state residents better understand the local property tax system in Minnesota, the League of Minnesota Cities has published answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how the system works.

What do I get for my city property taxes?
Local governments get the money they use to deliver services from a few different sources: property taxes, fees, revenue sharing with the state, and grants. Property tax dollars pay for the services that everyone in the community—as well as visitors, commuters, and tourists—can access. This includes things like streets, police and fire services, parks, and libraries. Other services—like economic development programs to help businesses grow and develop, snowplowing, garbage removal, and recycling are also typically paid for with property tax dollars.

How does the city—or any local government—decide what services to provide?
City councils review the services they currently provide and think about what local preferences are and what population trends suggest about the kinds of services people will need. For example, one community might favor running its own pool while another does not see the need. Communities with lots of young families need to offer different kinds of services than communities seeing big increases in the number of senior residents. Sometimes cities have to provide certain services in order to comply with state or federal laws. Some common examples are requirements for testing drinking water and making public buildings accessible to people with disabilities.

How does the city decide how much to collect in property taxes?
Cities look at their costs—like gasoline, road salt, salaries, and building repairs. They also determine the amount of money the city needs to provide the services residents expect and depend on. Councils then examine the dollars coming into the city from other sources—like fees people pay to use the recreation center or to license their dogs, grants from state and federal governments, and state revenue sharing. Property taxes make up the gap between money coming in from non-tax sources and the money needed to run the city. Other local governments (e.g., counties, schools) go through a similar process to set their property tax amounts.

This post is the second of a series. Click here to see the complete FAQ document (PDF file).  


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Navigating the property tax system in Minnesota (No. 2) -- FAQs

To help state residents better understand the local property tax system in Minnesota, the League of Minnesota Cities has published answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how the system works.

I get several property tax statements each year. How do I make sense of them?
Generally, three statements are sent to property owners each year: one in November, and two statements generally in March or April. The November statement shows you the amount of taxes local governments are proposing to collect in the following year. It will include an estimate of what your tax bill will be. Local governments can decrease the amount of taxes they will collect as they finalize their budgets, but they cannot increase the amount after this notice goes out, except in very limited circumstances such as natural disasters.

The second notice that you receive generally in March or April is a notice of the estimated value of your property and the property’s “use” classification (e.g., homestead, apartment, commercial, etc.), which is also known as the property assessment. All property is valued at its market value and classified according to its use on Jan. 2 of each year. Any improvements or destruction made to a property after Jan. 2 will be evaluated for the following year’s assessment.

The valuation of your property provided on the annual valuation notice is not used to compute your property taxes until the next calendar year. So, the spring 2014 valuation notice will be used for taxes payable in 2015. This is because all property owners have the right to challenge the valuation of the property. Information on how to contest a property’s valuation is contained on the valuation notice.

When does my tax bill come?
The third notice, generally received in March of each year, is the actual tax bill. It will show what you owe in property taxes to each local government—your county, city or township, school district, any special district, and the state. Some local governments will also include information about the kinds of services that the property tax dollars will support.

This post is the second of a series. Click here to see the complete FAQ document (PDF file). 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

City news roundup for 10-29-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

Fire departments mull the future (Forest Lake Times)

Liberian roots, local politics: Mayoral hopeful tests diverse suburb (Minnesota Public Radio)

Twin Cities suburbs diversify; City Councils remain white (Star Tribune)

Pierz students get hands-on civics lesson (Morrison County Record)

County fire chiefs group eyes shared services concept (West Central Tribune)

Albert Lea City Council tables reorganization plan (Albert Lea Tribune)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City news roundup for 10-15-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

City of Cottage Grove ushers in a new generation of police (South Washington County Bulletin)

After helping Duluth remake itself, Ness decides not to run again (Minnesota Public Radio)

Hibbing works on new city plan (Mesabi Daily News)

City of Eden Prairie seeks added resources for third-largest Somali community in metro (Star Tribune)

Cities, counties pay extra for salt (Mankato Free Press via Minnesota Public Radio)

City of Royalton and Bellevue Township working on kinks in fire service contract (Morrison County Record)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

City news round-up for 10-08-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

Editorial: A thumbs up to the keepers of the hydrants (Alexandria Echo Press)

The future outlook of Brooklyn Park street maintenance (Sun Post)

Lakeville's arts chief retires (Star Tribune)

Minnesota cities sue MPCA over water quality rules (St. Cloud Times)

City of Plymouth’s strengths highlighted in financial overview (Sun Sailor)

City of Rockford discusses mall design updates (Press and News)

Halloween tradition to return to Nashwauk (Hibbing Daily Tribune)




Monday, September 22, 2014



Navigating the property tax system in Minnesota (No. 1) -- FAQs

To help state residents better understand the local property tax system in Minnesota, the League of Minnesota Cities has published answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how the system works.

What makes my property tax bill change from year to year? Is it...
a. My property’s value?
b. My neighbor’s property value?
c. My city council, my county board, and my school board?
d. The state Legislature?
e. All of the above?

The answer is E—all of the above. The decisions of your city council, county board, and school board about the amount of tax dollars they need to deliver services may be the most obvious factor in your property tax bill. But the value of your property, the total value of all the property in your community, changes in state programs, and changes in state laws that affect the tax system also play a role. Changes in any of these factors can make your tax bill go up in some years and down in others. 

Some of the local news coverage talks about city budgets and other coverage talks about city levies. Are they the same thing?
The property tax levy is the amount of money that the city (or other local government) decides it needs to collect from property owners in order to deliver services. Property taxes, however, are just part of the overall city budget. The budget includes both discretionary spending (for services the city is free to choose to provide) and non-discretionary spending (to meet obligations such as paying off debt). The budget includes all the dollars that the city collects from various sources—fees, grants, revenue sharing, and property taxes. 

This post is the first of a series. Click here to see the complete FAQ document (PDF file).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

City news roundup for 9-3-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

Northfield named one of top 21 safe cities in Minnesota (Northfield News)

St. Paul water bills may soon rise to replace aging infrastructure (Pioneer Press)

Roseville Police K-9 Gets New Bulletproof Vest (KSTP-TV)

How do St. Cloud streets get their names? (St. Cloud Times)

City gets better bond rating, interest rates (Alexandria Echo Press)

Fallen St. Paul officers remembered 20 years later (Star Tribune)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

City news roundup for 8-27-14

Here are some recent news items from cities throughout Minnesota:

Outstate cities fight postal service closings (Star Tribune)

St. Paul aims to follow Brooklyn Center's lead on cheap cigars (Minnesota Public Radio)

Your Turn: Fridays off? Yes, for some small city halls  (St. Cloud Times)

Detroit Lakes police chief moonlights as rocker off duty (Park Rapids Enterprise)

Hoyt Lakes, Aurora moving toward police collaboration (Mesabi Daily News)

Site cleared for Lonsdale Veterans Memorial Park (Lonsdale Area News Review)



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What would our cities look like if kids were in charge?

Find out by having students you know take part in the 2014 Mayor for a Day Essay Contest, sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities. Open to Minnesotans who will be in the 4th, 5th, or 6th grades this school year, entries must be handwritten and postmarked no later than Oct. 15. Three winners will be chosen and awarded $100, and will have their essays published in Minnesota Cities magazine. Winners only will be notified no later than Dec. 1, 2014.
League of Minnesota Cities selects 31 as Legislators of Distinction for 2014

The League of Minnesota Cities recently selected 19 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives and 12 State Senators as Legislators of Distinction for 2014. The honor recognizes legislators for specific actions that aided efforts of Minnesota cities during this year’s legislative session.

Legislators of Distinction are annually approved by the League’s Board of Directors to recognize that in order to successfully serve commonly shared constituents, state and city officials must work together to meet the unique needs of rural, suburban, and urban residents all across Minnesota.

Recipients of the recognition received a letter of appreciation and a certificate. The letters of acknowledgement noted the specific act, bill, sponsorship, or actions in support of city-friendly legislation. Additionally, a copy of the Legislator of Distinction acknowledgement letter was sent to the mayor of each city in the district of each award winner.