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CASS COUNTY BOARD Cass residents of Brainerd School District to receive tax update

BACKUS — Cass County will send property taxpayers a notice this week to estimate 2012 taxes. Actual bills will not be sent until next spring.

Those notices may be of particular interest to Cass County residents who live in the Brainerd School District in light of the recent approval of the district’s levy referendum questions.

Tuesday, the county board voted to send a second mailing with additional information to taxpayers living in Cass County portions of the Brainerd School District, which includes portions of Homebrook Township and of the cities of East Gull Lake and Lake Shore.

Because the initial notices had to be based on school district levies certified to the state in early October, they do not reflect the results of two ballot questions in the Nov. 8 election approving two referendum questions for Brainerd Schools. Only subtraction of the prior expiring levy was included in the initial notice.

The voter-approved referenda will affect Cass County taxpayers moresignificantly than the average Brainerd School District taxpayer, because many of the Cass properties are valued higher. Average homes in that school district are valued at $144,000, while the average Cass home in the district is valued at $436,000, according to Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe.

The impact difference between the district-wide average home and that on Cass homes will be about $270 per year, because of the higher property values in Cass.

To get an accurate picture of the impact on individual properties, a taxpayer should multiply by .000902 the estimated market value from the upper right portion of the initial tax notice received and add that to the “total tax excluding special assessments” shown below under the “proposed 2012 property tax” column.

Because of the election timing, initial notices sent to taxpayers in the Pine River School District are accurate, Wolfe said, and do reflect the voter approved referendum in that district.

Countywide, despite efforts by many local governments and the county to hold spending to prior year levels, many Cass residents will still see their property taxes rise in 2012. This is because of the state Legislature’s change from a homestead credit to a market value adjustment.

Only 27 percent of Cass County taxpayers will see a reduction in 2012, while 43 percent will see their taxes rise up to 10 percent; 14 percent will see a 10 to 20 percent increase; and 16 percent will see their taxes rise more than 20 percent.

There were 83 taxable properties in the county that did not owe taxes in 2011, because agricultural credits more than offset their taxes due, Wolfe said. However, those properties will pay an average of $197 in 2012 with the loss of agricultural credits.

To get an accurate picture of expected increases for each taxing district in Cass County, go to the county website where each taxing district shows anticipated tax by city, township and school district for homesteads valued at $76,000, $150,000 and $225,000.