The ax or the tax? That's increasingly the question before cities, schools and counties in Minnesota as a tougher government spending environment plays out against a backdrop of a struggling economy.
This Minnesota Public Radio News Ground Level special project shows the dilemma residents and leaders are coping with and the resolutions they are finding.
Tax hikes and job cuts are two main themes emerging from recent trends and decisions Minnesota's 3,200 cities, counties, townships and school districts have been making the past several months.
by Dave Peters
by Curtis Gilbert
by Jennifer Vogel
by Tom Robertson
A primer on why local governments in Minnesota are feeling pressure and what they're doing about it. Learn more »
Eight communities especially worth keeping an eye on through 2012 and beyond as state fiscal policies, demographic changes and demands for efficiency continue to force hard decisions.
As communities face tight budgets and calls for more efficient government, leaders have accepted the challenge to varying degrees.
Charles Marohn, president of Strong Towns
Readers have been sharing their views about property taxes and what they think of the local services.Read more about what they have to say and join the conversation.
An MPR News sample of more than two dozen places shows that in most of them the estimated property tax in 2012 on a median value home is rising. Get more details in this interactive graphic.
Ely residents are pushing back at city leaders who raised the tax levy by 20 percent to cover diminishing state aid.
Most homeowners in Minnesota will see their property taxes go up next year. Watch this video to find out why.
For more on the shift from a homestead credit to a homestead exclusion, here's an explanation from House Research. (PDF)
Most Minnesota voters said yes to tax levies in this year's election. But that doesn't mean their message is "please raise my taxes."
The State of Minnesota Online Auction program for auctioning off surplus or outdated resources
A membership organization dedicated to promoting excellence in local government
A voluntary, non-partisan statewide organization that has assisted the state’s 87 counties in providing effective county governance to the people of Minnesota since 1909.
The purpose of the Association is to support, promote and enhance the work of public school boards and public education.
Our mission is to develop viable, progressive communities for businesses and families through strong economic growth and good local government.
Explaining the new homestead exclusion in the 2011 omnibus tax bill.
We identify topics that are significant and complex and that play out uniquely at the local level. We want to explore those issues in which people taking action in their communities make a difference and can serve as guides for others.
Ground Level launched in early 2010 and shines a light on a variety of topics, from the growing complexity of Minnesota's local food system to cities preparing for new fiscal realities, from exurban growth in Baldwin Township to the quest to expand broadband access across the state.
We experiment with coverage on a variety of platforms. This includes text, audio and video online, of course - the Ground Level blog, a series of topics pages and social networking, for example. It also includes on-air coverage, public forums both virtual and real-world and collaboration with community-based media.
Our audience consists of Minnesotans interested in community life, particularly those who are taking an active part in it or helping others do the same.
Ground Level is very much an experiment -- in finding ways to learn about and tell stories, in working with other organizations, in walking up to the line between providing insight and advocating specific actions. Our goal is to inform and give people the ability and incentive to engage with their community. We invite your feedback and your ideas, via the blog, twitter at @MPRGroundLevel, phone calls, emails, whatever. Join us.
About the team:
Dave Peters directs MPR's project on community journalism, looking for ways Minnesota residents are making their towns, cities and neighborhoods better places to live. He joined MPR News in 2009 after more than 30 years as a newspaper and online reporter and editor. Contact Dave
Jennifer Vogel reports and writes for the Ground Level project, focusing on complex topics that play out in Minnesota's communities and that involve residents getting engaged with the challenges of the day. She is a longtime Twin Cities writer and editor who joined MPR News and Ground Level in January 2010. Contact Jennifer
Support for Ground Level is provided
by the Bush Foundation.