ST. PAUL NOTES | Cut the budget AND raise property taxes

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That’s what Ramsey County is doing this year, with a $15 million-plus, 2.6 percent budget cut in 2012, cutting 134 employees (about 100 via attrition), and still raising property taxes by 2.7 percent. Why? Look to the Republican cuts to Local Government Aid for the answer.

In 2000, according to a Ramsey County press release, property taxes paid for 36 percent of the county’s budget. In 2012, property taxes have to support 46.5 percent of the county budget.

The budget is proposed, not yet passed, and the documents also cover 2013. You can see the whole thing online. And there are budget hearings – 14 in all, before the December 13 vote to approve the budget and tax levy.  All of the budget hearings are open to the public, but two are designated for public input:

  • 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, Council Chambers, 3rd Floor Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102. Contact Bonnie Jackelen at (651) 266-8014 if you wish to speak at this hearing.
  • 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, Location to be announced. Contact Bonnie Jackelen at (651) 266-8014 if you wish to speak at this hearing.

Health and human services make up 46 percent of the county budget. In her Powerpoint presentation to the county board, County Manager Julie Kleinschmidt described the challenges facing Ramsey County:

  • People experiencing food hardship has increased 14% in 2010 over 2009
  • Foreclosures are decreasing from the high in 2008 but are still 563% higher than 2003
  • Ramsey County’s unemployment rate peaked at 7.5% in 2010. Job recovery is not expected until mid 2013
  • According to the latest figures available, 16.4% of County residents – about 80,441 people – live in poverty. About 1 in 4 children in the County, about 29,265 children, live in poverty
  • Requests for public assistance have risen by 37.1% from 2003-2010
  • Visits to Workforce Solutions Resource Centers by residents seeking jobs increased 442%, and workshop attendance rose 168% from 2006-2010