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Kittson County’s taxes set to increase by 2 percent in 2020

By Anna Jauhola
For the last four years in a row, Kittson County has had the lowest tax burden in Minnesota, with a tax rate of 29.093 percent for 2020. The county board of commissioners presented the information during the annual Truth in Taxation meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The county taxes will increase by 2.058 percent over 2019.
According to County Administrator Eric Christensen, who presented the budget and levy at the meeting, the net tax levy amount for 2020 will be $3,964,113.
“We’re going to be using less reserves because we had a few software-related upgrade projects budgeted for 2019 out of reserves,” Christensen said. “They haven’t happened yet, so our use of reserves is going to go down. The proposed levy is … an increase of $77,780 over last year.”
Twenty-one townships and two towns didn’t change levies for the year, and five townships decreased their levies. Donaldson, Hallock and Halma each decreased their levies by $25,189, $10,875 and $169 respectively.
Karlstad, Kennedy, Humboldt and St. Vincent increased levies by $35,000, $9,875, $200 and $1,670 respectively.
The following townships increased their levies by these amounts: Deerwood, $7,000; Hampden, $600; Richardville, $3,000; and Thompson, $3,300.
The following townships decreased their levies by these amounts: Clow, $2,500; Klondike, $14,728; McKinley, $10,399; Percy, $5,000; North Red River, $546.
The three school districts’ levies each increased over 2019. Each school has a regular property tax levy and a bond referendum levy. Kittson Central’s property tax levy will increase by $15,131 and its bond levy will increase by $4,034. Lancaster School’s property tax levy will increase by $9,967 and its bond levy will increase by $12,213. Tri-County School’s property tax levy will increase by $25,125 and the bond levy will increase by $34,629.
Finally, the two watersheds in Kittson County will decrease their levies for 2020. Joe River Watershed’s levy will decrease by $26,637. Two River Watershed’s levy will decrease by $338,217.
In other business during the regular meeting, the commission:
• Approved County Engineer Kelly Bengtson’s request to increase the cost  of single-use moving permit fees from $15 to $60 and the annual fee from $120 to $150. Bengtson said these costs are more in line with what the Minnesota Department of Transportation charges.
• Approved two vouchers for Knife River Materials regarding construction projects on County Road 10 east of Lake Bronson.
• Tabled a request to increase Keith Klegstad’s working conditions level until they could figure whether he needed a full review from his union.
• Approved the up-to $1,103 Children’s Mental Health Screening grant through the Department of Human Services.
• Approved the purchase of a 2019 Ford Escape for the social services department to replace an aging Ford Fusion. Director Kathy Johnson said the Fusion has 120,000 miles on it and having vehicles for the department saves the county money. If each social worker drove their own vehicles, the county would have to pay them IRS mileage rate of 58 cents per mile.
• Approved a grant agreement for training for the sheriff’s office, which allows the deputies to drive ATVs on roadways.
• Heard from Troy Peterson regarding a grinding operation. The commission agreed Peterson’s best bet was to wait to hear on a permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

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