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County Budget and Levy Approved for 2020

Posted: 12/09/2019

Category: County Board, Departments

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Following a detailed Truth in Taxation meeting, December 5, Douglas County Commissioners approved the 2020 budget and levy. The $54.1 million budget is a summary of all expected expenditures in 2020. The levy is the amount of that budget raised by taxes. Commissioners approved the 2020 levy at $28.4 million.  “We are pleased with the levy presented and approved at the budget hearing for our property taxpayers in Douglas County. In an apples-to-apples comparison, based upon a $200,000 class 1a residential property with no changes in valuation to the property from 2019 to 2020, the county’s share of taxes will be a zero increase in 2020,” says Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow. “The county provides many valuable services to our residents and we are confident those services will continue to meet the needs under our 2020 budget.” 

Rosenow spent most of the hearing explaining where the county spends money and on what services. She outlined the valuable services the various departments provide including:  

Public Safety

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office processes approximately 30,000 911 calls through the 911 Communications Center annually – an average of 2,500 per month. The Sheriff’s Office responded to 15,240 calls for service in 2018. The Law Enforcement Center houses the Sheriff’s office, Dispatch, Office of Emergency Management & Public Information. The Douglas County Jail has a facility capacity of 156 inmates. County Jail services has seen an average daily population of 88 individuals and booking rates of approximately 1,836 annually.

Social Services (data from January 1 - October 1, 2019)

  • 90 people (56 adults/caregivers and 34 children) served through Emergency General Assistance funds-issued towards housing expenses to prevent eviction or utility disconnect.
  • 213 people (72 adults/caregivers and 141 children) receiving cash and food assistance through Minnesota Family Investment Program.
  • 94 families served through Child Care Assistance.
  • 880 adults without children who have a disability or receive Supplemental Security Income receiving cash assistance
  • 18,039 people (12,086 adults/caregivers and 5,953 children) receiving nutrition assistance through SNAP.
  • 6,106 people receiving health care assistance.

Public Works

Douglas County is responsible for 550 miles of roads, 400 of which are paved and 150 are unpaved, under three categories: County State Aid Highway (CSAH), Municipal State Aid Highway (MSAH) and County Roads. The County performs summer and winter road maintenance including:

  • Grading
  • Graveling roadways
  • Ditching/shoulder work
  • Replacing/installing new culverts
  • Brushing
  • Erosion control
  • Emergency repairs/storm cleanup
  • Pothole patching
  • Plowing
  • Sanding/salting

Land and Resource Management 

The Land & Resource Department is responsible for planning, land development, and environmental protection for the County. Services to County residents provided by the department include planning and zoning, construction and development permitting, septic sanitation, solid waste regulation, feedlot management, and aquatic invasive species prevention. In 2019 programs from this department interacted with and assisted over 12,000 residents and visitors to the County. These activities included:

  • Issued 519 permits for new and renovated structures.
  • Approved 54 land subdivisions and 12 residential plats.
  • Considered 23 special use permits for businesses and other uses.
  • Permitted 138 new septic treatment systems.
  • Worked with contractors or landowners on nearly 150 septic inspections.
  • Managed 224 operating permits to ensure proper sewage disposal.
  • Completed over 10,000 watercraft inspections at public accesses.
  • Provided decontamination services on over 150 boats and personal watercraft.
  • Completed aquatic plant surveys on 15 lakes resulting in no new invasive species.
  • Responded with on-site visits to 66 complaints resulting in the identification of 50 zoning violations.
  • Worked with the owners of 37 properties to bring them back into compliance.
  • Inspected over 30 feedlots and worked to assist owners in implementing resource protecting BMPs.

Veterans Services

The Douglas County Veteran Services Office assists veterans and their dependents to attain benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs. Such benefits include applying for service-connected disability compensation, non-service-connected pension, dental and optical vouchers for both qualified veterans and their spouses, burial benefits for qualified veteran’s dependents and survivor’s pension for the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. We also assist with transportation to and from the Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Fargo VA medical facilities with paid part time drivers on staff. The Fargo van trips will be made on a first come first serve basis with Minneapolis and St. Cloud having priority.

Recorder's Office 

  • 8,511 real estate documents
  • 3,505 death certificates
  • 1,719 birth certificates
  • 1355 passport photos
  • 935 passports
  • 280 marriage certificates
  • 232 marriage licenses
  • 86 notaries
  • 40 minister credentials

Rosenow also explained 13 reasons why a taxpayer’s property tax may go up or down overall.

  1. The market value of your property may change.
  2. The market value of other properties in your taxing district may change, shifting taxes from one property to another.
  3. The state of Minnesota general property tax may change.
  4. The city or township budget & levy may change.
  5. The county budget and levy may change.
  6. The school district’s budget & levy may change.
  7. A special district’s budget & levy may change.
  8. Special assessments may be added to a property tax bill.
  9. Voters may have approved a school, city/township, county, or special district referendum.
  10. Federal and state mandates may have changed.
  11. Aid and revenue from the state and federal governments may have changed.
  12. The Minnesota Legislature may have changed the portion of the tax base paid by different types of properties.
  13. Other state law changes may adjust the tax base.

To learn more about the budget, click on the link provided. 


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