December 19, 2017 11:31 PM
The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved its budget and property tax levy Tuesday morning.
The county will spend about $397 million in 2018, of which the property tax levy makes up $132 million.
"I believe this budget is very reflective of the community that we serve," Commissioner Keith Nelson, who chairs the finance committee, said.
It includes a 4.45 percent increase in the property tax levy. But with a tax base growth of 3.95 percent, taxpayers should only see about a .5 percent increase on the country portion of their property taxes.
A county as large as St. Louis presents unique strengths and challenges. For example, the opioid crisis continues to burden the county and its taxpayers.
"We still have 800 children in out-of-home placement," Nelson said. "Just to give you an idea because I think this really hits home with folks is that's as many kids as there are in the entire Eveleth-Gilbert school district."
About a third of the levy-generated piece of the budget goes toward Public Health and Human Services.
Commissioner Pete Stauber agreed that spending money there is important.
"We know that if we don't invest in those people that are having problems with the opioid crisis and what have you, we're going to pay tenfold down the road," Stauber said.
There are also critical infrastructure needs that go beyond just roads and bridges.
"When we address critical infrastructure needs to serve our residents, we're talking about everything from technology investments to staffing and resources to access to services," Administrator Kevin Gray said.
That also includes website development and ways to better communicate with the public.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners celebrate Camp Esquagama's accreditation.
In its 82-year history, the camp in Gilbert has never received an American Camp Association accreditation. Officials said it will sharpen them and show parents Camp Esquagama is a healthy, safe place to send their kids.
It will be up for reaccreditation in four years.
Updated: December 19, 2017 11:31 PM
Created: December 19, 2017 04:40 PM
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