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One comment heard at budget/levy public hearing

Preliminary 2024 levy up 7.5%, full budget hike 1.15%

NEW ULM — One public comment was heard at the Brown County 2024 proposed county budget/levy (Truth in Taxation) public hearing in the Brown County Courthouse courtroom Tuesday.

Josh Boelter of rural New Ulm said his proposed 2024 residential property taxes are up 48.24% from 2023.

“It’s tough to accept that,” said Boelter. “But I understand land values went up due to residential home sales. I’d just like to learn more details about it.”

Brown County Auditor Treasurer Kelly Hotovec said she would provide more information on Boelter’s property taxes to him in more detail in the county assessors office after the public hearing.

According to information handed out at the hearing, Brown County assessed property value changes between 2023 and 2024 excluding new construction, increased 28.17% overall. Agricultural values rose 38.01%, residential values 15.89% and commercial/industrial market values climbed 12.78%.

Brown County Administrator Sam Hansen said annual budget work is a long process that begins in April and May with county department reviews.

“All department heads do a nice job looking for outside funding. I couldn’t do my job without them,” Hansen said.

The $1,170,057 preliminary levy set Sept. 12, 2023 by commissioners is a 7.5% increase from 2023. The total budget increase of 1.15%, from $41,934,923 to $42,415,674 is less than the 2022 total budget increase.

The 2024 county budget is set for final adoption at the Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 board meeting.

Brown County’s 2023 per capita tax levy rate of $606.09 is the 13th lowest among 87 Minnesota counties.

Significant 2024 budget changes are out of home placement care, new positions including a new sheriff’s deputy and assessor’s technician, subscription-based software, cyber security enhancements, wage/insurance increases and greater supplies, goods and equipment costs.

Major 2024 capital initiatives include CSAH 3 shoulder widening, CSAH 7 bridge 1705 replacement, CIR (cold in-place recycle) and overlay on CSAH 25 from CSAH 11-13 and CSAH 27 from TH 14 to CSAH 11.

Hansen asked Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens how much county highway striping costs rose this year and was told those costs are up 40%.

“Cybersecurity is becoming a big vulnerability and cost too,” Hansen added.

Brown County services in 2023 included 90 child welfare cases, 50 child protection cases, 10 adoption/guardianship cases, and 464 child protection reports from Jan. 1, 2023 to Oct. 25, 2023; and 854 child support open cases.

In addition, the Brown County Veteran’s Services Office administered $20.9 million in financial benefits to Brown County veterans, up 7% from 2022.

In 2023, Heartland/Hermann Express traveled nearly 200,000 miles with more than 40,000 passengers in more than 14,000 hours. No levy is required for transit services.

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