MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton told leaders of Minnesota’s counties Monday that he’s sympathetic to their financial difficulties, but promised no immediate relief.

Dayton was speaking at the annual convention of the Association of Minnesota Counties. He predicted “big property tax increases this year and next” as counties struggle to make up for declines in state aid programs even as property owners contend with the elimination of the homestead market value credit — a popular program that reduced most peoples’ property tax bills.

Dayton called property taxes “the most unfair tax of all — you have to pay it whether or not you have a job or an income.” The Democratic governor said he’d like to lessen pressure on property taxpayers with income taxes that take more from wealthier earners — but said he wasn’t likely to make another big push for those changes until at least 2013, after the next legislative election.

It’s an understandable strategy for Dayton, who’s found Republican legislative leaders highly unreceptive to his proposed income tax hike on the wealthy. But county commissioners at Monday’s meeting in downtown Minneapolis said their budgets are quickly stretching to the breaking point.

“We’re running on the bare bones,” said Rachel Nystrom, a Crow Wing County commissioner from Baxter, near Brainerd. Nystrom said she and fellow commissioners managed to reduce their property tax levy the last three years in anticipation of state aid cuts — but that most property owners in the area will still see higher property tax bills this week, thanks to the elimination of the homestead credit.

“People don’t have money to pay more taxes,” Nystrom said. “We’re on the front lines of these decisions — we’re the ones in line with folks at the grocery store.”

Few commissioners had a serious expectation that lawmakers, when they reconvene in St. Paul at the end of January, would have the will or the resources to restore any of the lost state aid. Dayton and lawmakers did learn last week of an unexpected $876 million state budget surplus, but that money by law must be held in reserve.

If the surplus grows by late February, Dayton said, additional proceeds should be used to repay Minnesota school districts who’ve seen their own aid payments delayed in order to bridge a budget deficit earlier this year.

“We’re not expecting anything more,” said John Baerg, a Watonwan County commissioner from St. James, in southwestern Minnesota. “We just hope we don’t lose anything.”

Several commissioners spoke of bottled-up need, particularly in the area of road and infrastructure projects. “We could sure use more money for roads,” said Richard Samuelson, a Goodhue County commissioner from Cannon Falls.

Baerg said he and allies would use the convention to get county leaders from around the state to coalesce behind a series of legislative changes to how counties operate. The “Minnesota Accountable Government Innovations and Collaboration,” or MAGIC Act, would aim to free counties from some state mandates and allow county leaders greater flexibility in decisions about using county resources.

Dayton is not free from responsibility for the very budget-balancing maneuvers he decried before county leaders, which were the result of compromises between the governor and Republican legislative leaders that ended a 20-day partial state shutdown last summer. But Dayton said he only signed off because Republicans were unwilling to endorse his favored approach, noting his earlier opposition to both the local government aid cuts and the elimination of the homestead credit.

Dayton said in the second half of his first term, starting in 2013, he was likely to get behind a major overhaul of the state’s system of income, sales and property taxes.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (33)
  1. Mike says:


  2. pat says:

    Give the schools the money that the legislature has been holding back.

    1. jackactionhero says:


      There is no money that they have been “holding back” from us.

      You are confused about the situation.

  3. Joe says:

    The surplus money came from the Minneapolis Police and Firefigters Unions that recently reached a deal placing their retirement funds with the State retirement funds.

    1. jackactionhero says:


      No. It doesn’t. Period. That money doesn’t go into the Collected Taxes bin, which is where this money is projected to be coming from.

      Again, projected. There IS NO SURPLUS MONEY. Please try to understand basic economics, people. PLEASE.

      1. Joe says:

        Really? So, the retiree’ s are told they have $876 million in their funds that are slotted to go into the state funds on the first and the state ‘finding’ an extra $876 million is just a coincidence?

        1. jackactionhero says:

          You aren’t sure what you’re talking about, Joe. You’d do well to stay out of the conversation based on that information alone.

          1. Joe says:

            Have you researched it? Did you talk with the people involved? Have you been following the pension fund debates and news stories for years? I have.

            1. jackactionhero says:

              That is NOT RELEVANT!!!

              The money is from the government taking MORE OF YOUR MONEY in taxes. They’ve come right out and said so, Joe!

              Get your brain working, buddy. You’re not firing on all cylinders here.

              1. Joe says:

                Not relevant? Really? Taking money from retiree’s is not relevant?

                Look. I have not read anywhere an explanation from an official as to where they think the money came from.
                I HAVE read the information about the pension funds.

                The money did not come from the taxes (unless you loosely figure in the taxes brought in to pay the officers that protect your streets that they then put into a pension fund).

                I have a hard time believing in a $876 million coincidence.

                1. jackactionhero says:

                  You can’t see past your own nose, Joe.

                  You hearing about a story is not some sort of hard evidence of ANYTHING.

                  And yes, the money that is PROJECTED to be there (note: It is NOT THERE NOW) is based on a projection of the amount of taxes to be taken in.

                  Look, this is not rocket science, Joe. I have an economics degree. Do you?

  4. jason says:

    I don’t think that money came from police or firemens funds where do you come up with that? Thats money from we the people of this great state.

  5. bigjc1980 says:

    seriously buy the stupid stadioum now…

    1. nada says:

      Seriously, go play in the traffic.

  6. pumpyoufull says:

    Save it for the 2014 deficit.

  7. NO STADIUM, EVER. says:

    Forget the stupid stadium. Use the money for our deficit and for tax reductions. There are people hungry our there. Is Zygi hungry? There are people that cannot pay their heat bill, Is Zygi cold?

    Basic needs are far more important than a castle for overpaid players and their followers. St Paul is closing a fire station (from an article in the news) and laying off police and fire fighters. It would be an insult to Minnesota if a stadium were built for these delinquents while laying off police and fire fighters.

    Those that “bleed purple”, purple face painters, purple car owners, purple beer guzzlers. purple this and that—get real. IT IS A GAME. It is cheap theatrics on a grassy stage. Those “experts” that gather all week long to hash, rehash and second guess every play, and bore the the rest of us at work or play—GET OVER IT.

    We used to work at the concession stands in the dome for charitible causes
    Yeah, I have seen players and their spouses after the games….strutting around wearing gold with an attitude that screams of “someone take my picture”. They belong in L.A. Maybe they will do a reality show of “keeping up with the vikings” Did you ever see their expensive cars with all the out-of-state license plates? Do you really think they stay around Minnesota after the season is over to spend all their money here? THINK AGAIN.

    If any state money is given to Wilf, it should be after a statewide vote. It is OUR money, not just those that follow these ridiculously paid players. OUR MONEY.

    If Wilf wants a stadium. pay up. He has the money. Betcha he also has enough to put in hotels and shopping centers around the Arden Hills site too. It is all about greed and nobody does it better than these football guys.

    1. jackactionhero says:

      You are confused.

      There should be NO state wide vote. That is such an uneducated thing to say. You see, we have these things called ELECTIONS that ELECT people to make these decisions in our best interests, thereby eliminating the gridlock that would come with 5 million people trying to vote on every single issue.

      Get informed.

  8. tan pup says:

    I heard the cash was to go into the “rainy day” fund. WTH is that anyway? Let’s see, N Mpls was hit by a tornado; I think it rained too – but NO not for that; MN is broke – hummm not used for paying state debt- Districts are owed $$ that citizens paid into – Nope not for that either. . . Road are a mess – NOPE. Gee I don’t know what it’s for. . . but why does a picture of Ziggi as the little weasle in the Fog Horn Leg Horn Cartoon keep popping into my head? Yeah Yeah Yeah, slurp, slurp slurp slurp . . . pant pant pant

    1. jackactionhero says:


      There is no cash.

      There is a projected amount of money that is greater than what they wrote down as what they thought they’d get.

      Does ANYBODY understand economics and accounting AT ALL???

  9. Joe says:

    Son of a retiree and been paying attention to the process. There are stories out there on it.

    1. jackactionhero says:


  10. jason says:

    Board approves merger of Minneapolis public safety plans with PERA
    (October 2011)
    The Minneapolis fire and police pension plans will become part of PERA’s Police and Fire Plan December 31, 2011.

    The mergers became official with the approval of PERA’s Board of Trustees Thursday, October 13. The action was previously approved by both of the relief associations and by the City of Minneapolis. The first step was taken when the Minnesota Legislature cleared the way for the mergers as part of PERA’s Omnibus Pension Bill. The language was added late in the regular session and the measure was carried over and approved during July’s Special Session.

    The benefit structure of the Minneapolis plans will remain unchanged, but future pension increases for their retirees will match adjustments for regular P&F Plan members beginning in 2016.

    One requirement for approval by PERA’s Board of Trustees was that any merger should have no adverse impact on the P&F Fund. The City of Minneapolis will make additional contributions to the P&F Plan through 2031 to meet any unfunded liabilities the two associations bring to the PERA fund. (This is the same procedure used in 1999 to allow local plans administered by PERA to merge with the Police and Fire Plan.) seems to me going to cost more money mpls to make up any short fall. sounds like bad news for the rest of us.

  11. Ace says:

    ziggy will try to find a way to get his greedy little hands on the “surplus”

    1. jackactionhero says:

      That isn’t how economics work, Einstein.

      My god, how stupid. Aren’t you embarrassed to have even thought that, let alone posted it on a public comment section of a newspaper? I mean wow.

  12. GN says:

    Well I guess when the cities, counties and state were getting 5% plus increases and increases to reitirement benefits to government employees when the rest of us who work in the private sector were lucky to get 1%, it’s no wander why the government is still sucking the working class private sector dry.

    1. More Lies. says:

      Better go back and do some research GN. I am a retired 27 year state employee. Most of my 27 years (retired in 2008) ended up in ZERO pay increase due to budget shortfalls. Check the contracts for AFSCME, MAPE and MME before you make false statements. The very few times there was an increase, it was about 1.5%. There were no increases during the Ventura 4 years, and 1 increase if I remember correctly during the Pawlenty 8 years.

      Public employees are used to getting bashed by people that have no idea what they are talking about. How many increases did you get in 12 years?

      1. Lance says:

        If you worked in the private sector you sure would not be retired today. Try working 40 years then retire like a normal job.

  13. Wrong Again says:

    Lance, the LAST 27 were from the state. The FIRST 15 were from somewhere else. Like I said, people that hove no clue love to bash public workers.
    You made my point perfectly.

  14. Jake says:

    Well, Dayton figured out how to make ALL of MN’s homeowners pay for the new Vikes stadium, and they don’t even know it. Deny them their homestead credit due to a ‘budget shortfall’, then when the ‘surplus’ appears out of nowhere, hand Zigi a big, fat check. The voters don’t get to vote on it, dayton can claim that HE didn’t raise ANY taxes, and Ramsey County dodges a sales tax increase.

  15. jackactionhero says:

    You people are confused.

    They did not find 500 million dollars in a room.

    They ran the numbers and CALCULATED that they will have received more tax dollars than anticipated. The money isn’t REAL, it’s EXPECTED, and it’s YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

    You are treating it like they OWN this money and can do with it what they wish. Is that really what you want?

    They fleeced you on property taxes as well as many others.

    I think some of you have been taking it in the tailpipe so long you don’t even feel the thumping against your backsides anymore…

  16. desert eagle .50 says:

    «I think some of you have been taking it in the tailpipe…»

    Your favorite pastime, next to coprophagia.

    1. jackactionhero says:

      And you’d know how? Because I’m the one slamming it to you? LOL

      Not sure you intended on admitting that here, but whatever floats your boat, buddy.

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