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Letter to the editor: Taxes too high? Blame Republicans, writer says

To the editor,

Has your property tax increased? Thank the GOP majority.

Property taxes were due Oct. 15 and if you're like me, you've seen your property taxes rise, even while the value of your house has gone down. This year, the county and township portion of my property tax went up a little over 1 percent, but my home value in the same year, went down by 11 percent.

We all have the Republican majorities in the House and Senate to thank for these increases. After shutting down state government for a record 21 days, their budget eliminated the Homestead Credit, which went to 95 percent of homeowners and gave us an average credit of $202. The GOP's elimination of the Homestead Credit led directly to $260 million in tax hikes this year. The average annual property tax increase, from 2004 through 2012, is $370 million, statewide, the largest increases in state history. So much for the Republican no new taxes claim, huh? That's why I am voting for Jim Arlt.

If you want lower property taxes you may want to move to Edina. A home valued at $207,683 on Xerxes Avenue in Edina pays $2,851.68 in property taxes while a home at 193rd Street west in Farmington valued at $199,508 pays $3,388.30. If a Farmington home were valued at $280,000 they pay over $5,000 while the same valued house in Edina would pay $3,682.36. While there are still over 11 pages of mortgage foreclosure notices in our local paper and it was well known that Farmington was the center of the mortgage crisis in Dakota County, Pat Garofalo increased the burden on these homeowners by voting to eliminate the Homestead Credit.

The Homestead Credit is the only state aid suburban homeowners receive. Non-partisan reports and city and state officials agree -- the elimination of the Homestead property tax credit resulted in higher property taxes on middle-class families. Families and businesses have already seen property taxes skyrocket by more than $3 billion over the last decade, and this was common-sense tax relief that folks couldn't afford to lose. These tax hikes are devastating to seniors, families, farmers and our middle class. Property taxes are already a huge burden for many small businesses. These hikes will only make it more difficult for companies to hire new workers or purchase new equipment. So much for the GOP being good for the economy and business. The claim that the elimination of the Homestead Credit has raised property taxes for nearly all Minnesotans has already been fact checked and proven accurate.

So why did they vote to eliminate it? The Republicans say it was because the cities and counties asked them to eliminate it. Why? Because the Legislature didn't include in their budget, full reimbursement for the Homestead credit, to cities and counties, for eight of the last 10 years. They continued the Republican practice of "just kicking the can down the road." So while people are struggling to be able to stay in their homes, Garofalo voted to add a tax increase, all because the legislature can't budget.

I'll be voting for DFL candidate Jim Arlt, because he believes in a fair and balanced approach to providing property tax relief for homeowners, businesses, renters, and farmers alike. If he doesn't get in, maybe we should all look at moving to Edina.

Cathy Johnson,