House debating bill to cap property tax increasesby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A committee in the Minnesota House has started debating a bill that would put a cap on property tax increases by cities and counties.
Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, said she's proposing the legislation to force local governments to keep a lid on spending. The bill would put a two-year freeze on county and city property tax levels.
"We're trying to set some tone here," Runbeck said. "We're trying to say that the emphasis in the past has been all about revenues. Revenue, revenue, revenue. Now it's time to say let's focus on what the cost drivers are in local governments."
Several city and county officials say the bill would severely restrict decisions that should be made on the local level. Property taxes are central to the budget disagreement between Gov. Dayton and Republicans in the Legislature.
Dayton is hiking income taxes on top earners because he says it will keep property taxes lower. Republicans say they don't need any new revenues to erase the state's $6.2 billion budget deficit.
But Keith Carlson, with the Minnesota Inter County Association, said many cities and counties across the state kept property tax rates level or cut them last year.
"From our perspective, this is the kind of micromanaging that local officials hate," Carlson said. "From our perspective, this is another mandate that we just don't care for."
The property tax proposal might be included in an omnibus bill.