Property Tax Confusion

confusion.jpgSince property tax payments are due at the end of this week, I thought that I’d take a few moments to talk about exactly who taxes property within the City of Eden Prairie. There are more entities taxing your property than most people think.

There are the easy ones. If you own property within the City of Eden Prairie it is taxed by the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, Three Rivers Park District and the City of Eden Prairie. Depending on where the property is, it is taxed by one of three school districts: Eden Prairie, Minnetonka or Hopkins. Also depending on where the property is, it is also taxed by one of three watershed districts: Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek, Nine Mile and Lower Minnesota River.

All in all, there are what we call six UTA’s (Unique Taxing Areas) in Eden Prairie. Hang with me here. Here they are:

Eden Prairie city-Eden Prairie schools-Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek wsd. This is, by far, our largest UTA with 17,685 parcels in it. Its Pay 2010 tax rate is 106.758%. When you hear someone talk about “average taxes in Eden Prairie” they are probably using this UTA tax rate in their assumptions.

The next largest UTA is the one comprised of Eden Prairie city-Eden Prairie schools-Nine Mile wsd. It covers a large portion of the east side of Eden Prairie. It has 2,592 parcels with a tax rate of 106.772%.

The third largest UTA, in terms of how many parcels it has, is the one comprised of Eden Prairie city-Eden Prairie schools-Lower Minnesota River wsd. This is the area along the bluffs of the Minnesota river south of Pioneer Trail. These taxpayers pay a tax rate of 105.999%.

From here on down, the UTAs get somewhat smaller. Next in line, with 687 parcels, is the UTA comprised of Eden Prairie city-Minnetonka schools-Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek wsd. This UTA is in the northwest part of the city. The taxpayers of this UTA enjoy the lowest tax rate in Eden Prairie at 99.456%.

There are two UTAs in Eden Prairie that overlap the Hopkins School District, in the northeast part of town. The Eden Prairie city-Hopkins schools-Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek wsd has 82 parcels and a tax rate of 103.849%. The UTA with Eden Prairie city-Hopkins schools-Nine Mile Creek wsd has 459 parcels and a tax rate of 103.863%.

The Lower Minnesota River wsd does not overlap with either Minnetonka or Hopkins school districts, nor does the Minnetonka school district overlap with the Nine Mile wsd. That’s why there are more statistical combinations of UTAs in theory than there are in reality.

I brushed by the Hennepin County and Metropolitan Council’s property tax impacts quickly because they are the same in all Eden Prairie UTAs. They are interesting though. The Metropolitan Council’s tax levy includes money for mosquito control, Met Council operations, Right-of-way purchases, and Metro Transit debt. Hennepin County’s tax levy includes money for parks, park museum, regional rail authority and their housing & redevelopment authority.

Minnesota’s property tax system is complicated. There’s no doubt about that. We can all imagine, I’m guessing, a world in which we could simplify this hulking tax system. If you’ve got ideas about how to do that, please tell your state legislator. They run the show.

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” I enjoy living in a civilized society. I’ll be paying my taxes on Friday, too.

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