Monday, April 06, 2009

I can't hear you 

I don't understand why the Minnesota Senate is choosing to pick this fight. A press release from the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus came with an attachment indicating a vote today for an amendment offered by Republican leader Senator Dave Senjem to retain Truth in Taxation (in SF3) for property tax levies. Four DFLers joined all nineteen Republicans in supporting the Senjem Amendment; forty DFLers were against. After the vote Sen. Senjem said
As a former city council member, I will attest that �Truth in Taxation� hearings provide an invaluable opportunity for a specific meeting dedicated to discussing the budget and to hearing directly from citizens regarding the tax policy of local governments.

Ending �Truth in Taxation� hearings at a time in history when we need more citizens involved with their government and paying more attention to tax policy in Minnesota is simply wrong.
MN House of Representatives Research shows what a Truth-inTaxation hearing is intended to do:

Under the law prior to TnT, the main avenue for taxpayer involvement was on the valuation side of the system. Taxpayers received their market value notice early in the year, and then no further information was sent to the taxpayer until the property tax statement was received the following February or March�almost a whole year later. The legislature felt that TnT would improve local accountability by focusing taxpayers on the relationship between the budget process and property taxes.

The main purposes of TnT were:

  • to enhance public participation in Minnesota�s property tax system,
  • to educate the public on how property taxes are determined,
  • to encourage the public to understand the local government�s budget process,
  • to encourage the public to become involved in helping local officials set spending priorities.

Although there are some exceptions (i.e., referendums, court costs, etc.) the local government�s final levy can not be increased above the proposed levy amounts reflected on the TnT notices.

It appears at least you'll still get the notices that tell you whether your property taxes are going up because of a change in spending, change in valuation, state aid, etc. But your local elected officials will no longer have to hear from you as they set spending targets. The PiPress spoke against SF3's repeal of TnT already. I guess the DFL only likes listening tours when they know who they will listen to.

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