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Restrictions irk local officials

A state-imposed cap on levy increases is rubbing some Red Wing city officials the wrong way.

Red Wing City Council member Mike Hall said the move "trounces" on local government's autonomy.

City Finance Director Marshall Hallock agreed.

"It's an attempt to preclude your local decision-making authority," Hallock said about the possibility of a levy limit.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty settled on capping local governments' levy increases at 3.9 percent in a tax agreement reached as the session ended.

"It just irks me to no end," Hall said of the decision, which remains in place for three years. "State government doesn't have any place in running the financial offices of local governments."

Last year Red Wing raised its property tax levy 5 percent.

An increased amount of local government aid may offset the levy limits for some local municipalities.

Most towns in Goodhue County will not only receive an increase in aid over what they got in 2008, but also an increase over what they were projected to receive in 2009 under the old law.

Red Wing, however, takes a hit under the new law. While the city will receive $35,000 more than it did in 2008, that increase is $78,000 less than what was projected under the old law.