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Dave Olson, Published September 15 2010

Clay County approves tax hike

The Clay County Commission on Tuesday approved a preliminary tax levy payable in 2011 that would raise about $24.3 million, or 4.45 percent more in revenue than the previous levy.

The good news for taxpayers?

Growth in the county’s tax base from new construction will mean the net impact on taxpayers will be about 2.45 percent, if the preliminary levy remains unchanged after the levy and county budget are finalized in December.

The proposed levy may be decreased between now and December, but it cannot be increased.

The actual amount taxes would increase under the proposed levy varies depending on the property.

For a home in Moorhead valued at $150,000, the county’s portion of the property tax would increase by $11.14, or 0.7 percent. For a $200,000 home in Moorhead, taxes would go up $14.85, or 0.67 percent.

The county is looking at a total budget in 2011 of about $60 million.

Officials have set aside enough money for a 1.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase for county workers, but no decision has been made as to whether it will happen.

Also, the budget sets aside about $350,000 to offset anticipated reductions in aid the state pays to local governments.

Local officials worry state cuts could go even deeper, and Clay County has a contingency plan that allows for the possibility of mandatory work furloughs as well as cuts in services or employee numbers.

The county already allows voluntary furloughs, and they have been saving Clay County about $40,000 a year.

Clay County Administrator Vijay Sethi said Tuesday that the budget contains money for outside agencies that have received allocations in the past.

He added, however, that if state cuts go deeper than anticipated, the county may have to reconsider how much it gives to organizations.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555