Unpacking proposed property taxes in Kasson

Talia Milavetz
Created: November 20, 2019 06:51 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- In the last week, homeowners in our area have gotten notices about their proposed 2020 property taxes.

Kasson homeowner Brandon DeBoom did not see his proposed property tax increase coming.


“I was a little bit shocked initially. 17.3 percent like I said is more than most years,” he said. “In a typical year, it had been about a five percent increase.”

He couldn’t understand what made this year so different.

"There's not really a good breakdown or itemization on why it's going up so much,” he said.

Property taxes are determined by several factors, including the estimated market value of a home, as well as proposed levies from the city, county and school district. ABC 6 News looked at each of these factors to find out why some Kasson homeowners are seeing dollar signs.

DeBoom’s estimated home value went up by more than $33,000. He said in the past it has never gone up by more than $10,000.

"I'm not really sure what the reasoning for that is. If they are basing it on other houses in the neighborhood, but we haven't made any significant home improvements that have justified that," he said.

The Dodge County Assessor would not go on-camera but did say this year’s increases were in part because homes in the past were valued significantly less than what they actually sold for.  When that happens, the state requires the assessor to close that gap. So on average, Dodge County homeowners saw their estimated home values increase 15 to 20 percent.

"In Dodge County over the last few years we've actually seen houses in the market sell rather quickly. When you have a larger demand than supply, values naturally go up,” said Dodge County Administrator Jim Elmquist.

As Rochester expands and more job opportunities pop up, Kasson Mayor Chris McKern said more people are looking to live in nearby communities like Kasson.

“We’ve seen growth by 400 people in the last five years,” said Mayor McKern.

Many of them families.

"When you ask people the number one reason why they are moving here they usually say the school," he said.

That, of course, causes school enrollment to grow too.

“Our enrollment has probably increased by 40 students over the last year,” said District Business Manager Bob Hasz.

That affects the school’s levy, which is not determined by the school, but by state formulas that factor in the average market value of district homes and enrollment numbers, both of which have gone up this year.

“We’re fortunate, over the last few years our enrollment has been growing. So naturally we’re gonna see a little larger tax increase,” said Hasz.

Dodge County’s levy increased too.

“Our overall cost went up six percent in comparison to last year. However, with the amount of growth we had last year at about 12 percent overall tax capacity tax rate will actually decrease,” said Elmquist.

Growth in the area typically means tax capacity grows too. So homes where the estimated market value stayed about the same could have seen their property taxes go down. But that wasn’t the case for most people in Kasson, with almost 95 percent of homes increasing in market value.

The final factor determining property taxes in Kasson is the city’s proposed levy, up nearly 14 percent from last year.

Five to six percent of that will go to maintaining city business, the rest could go to a number of projects including future flood prevention plans or hiring new city staff, but that’s up to City Council.

“We could say we are going to do the cost of doing business and that’s it. And we’re not going to add anything this year or do anything and it could be a 6, 7, 8, 9 percent levy increase. But we can’t go over that 13.8 percent,” said McKern.

Whatever decisions are made, DeBoom just hopes that in the future, his property taxes aren’t such a mystery.

“A quick little memo in there would have gone a long way,” he said.

The proposed levies are not set in stone. There are several meetings coming up where people can voice their opinions.

November 26 - Dodge County
            6 p.m. GSB Board Room/Conference Room B
            Dodge County Government Services Building
December 11 - City of Kasson
            6 p.m. Council Chambers
            Kasson City Hall
December 16 - School District
            7 p.m. Community Forum Room KMHS
            Kasson-Mantorville Elementary

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