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County Board approves 6.9% levy increase

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved a maximum levy increase of 6.9 percent for the 2023 budget year during its meeting Monday.

The levy set in September can be lower — but not higher — in December following the completed budget process. But none of the commissioners were optimistic the levy would go any lower.

The vote featured commissioners Tom Proulx, Dick Brenner and Marv Bodie voting in favor, and Mark Thell voting against.

The board set the preliminary budget at $32.3 million for 2023, an increase of $2.1 million over last year. After the results of the referendum on the half-percent sales tax at the November general election, and bid-letting for the bulk of the Justice Center construction in December, a clearer picture will emerge on impacts to the county budget for 2023 and beyond.

Bodie said inflation has hit the transportation department budget severely, with costs for fuel, repair parts and infrastructure purchases much higher than expected.

Board chair Gary Peterson, whose immediate family is quarantined because of Covid, attended the meeting remotely via video conference. County attorney Laurie Ketola advised that commissioners cannot vote on an issue if they are not physically present at the board meeting. Peterson listened and commented but did not vote.

The board set the Truth in Taxation hearing for Dec. 13, with a final vote on levy and budget approval on Dec. 27.

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