Will Winona County be punished for lowering its property tax levy? Data aired Tuesday suggests that the county will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars less from the state, in part because property tax decreases have help expand the tax capacity in the county. Meanwhile, metropolitan counties are getting more. Millions more.
Commissioner Jim Pomeroy mentioned the issue to board members Tuesday, questioning the state formula for the way that County Program Aid (CPA) is distributed by state leaders. According to the numbers, Winona County will receive about $459,000 less, representing quite a loss for the revenue source that was expected to bring in about $2.4 million.
Pomeroy told the board that he’d seen the figures other counties would be getting from the state, too, and that some metro counties were seeing huge increases, some at 50, 70 and 100 percent more than last year. Is Winona County getting less, he wondered, because it had lowered its levy, thereby freeing up some tax capacity. A loss of about a sixth of the funding, Pomeroy said, is alarming.
County Finance Director Pat Moga said that the drop in property tax levy was one of the factors considered in the state formula, a complicated system that the board is expected to examine in the coming weeks. “It’s unique,” he said. “There were some winners, and there were a lot of losers.”
With CPA having been on the chopping block for years, Pomeroy said it was even more odd to see increased payments for some as counties have been bracing for cuts across the board. “It kind of boggles the mind,” he said. “I’ve never seen this before. From one year to the next, statistically, it just seemed way beyond what anybody would expect.”
County Administrator Duane Hebert said the county is seeing some huge swings when it comes to the amounts it is receiving from the state for various programs.