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Leftists often say they’re happy to pay taxes. So why the outrage from hundreds of residents in the reliably one party city of Minneapolis suddenly flooding City Hall with complaints about their skyrocketing property tax assessments?
The backlash caught the attention of the Star Tribune.
Concerns about unjustified real estate tax hikes have contributed to more than 1,386 property owners disputing the city’s market-price assessments, according to the city. That’s an 83 percent increase from 2017 and more than four times the number filed in 2013.
Joann Greenwell, a retired Minneapolis schoolteacher, filed an appeal after the assessed value of her roughly 1,000-square-foot rambler in Linden Hills went up more than $50,000 in a year. She paid $6,000 in taxes last year, and that was after a hefty tax break she won’t get anymore because her house is now worth too much, she said.
“Looking ahead, if this is what continues, I’m going to have to be looking for something else to live in,” said Greenwell. “And that was certainly not my plan. Really, I would have to move out of the city.”
City Hall blames the developments on a red-hot real estate market along with the fact residents talk to each on social media. Apparently more Minneapolis taxpayers are comparing and contrasting their property assessments online.
[City Assessor Patrick] Todd also believes social media is playing a role. Homeowners are seeing other estimates on sites like Zillow, Trulia and Redfin and sharing information with their neighbors on Nextdoor and Facebook.
“People are very active, and they’re talking to each other not only across the street but within the same community,” said Todd. “The more informed the taxpayers are, the more likely that they’re going to take action. … I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just saying that’s probably the new world for the assessor’s office.”
Nearly 450 appeals rolled in on the deadline for challenging the city’s sticker price. Almost all of the cases remain unresolved, a process that could take several more weeks. Most of the complaints come from liberal neighborhoods in south Minneapolis, where some suddenly appear to be waking up to the fact there’s no end in sight to the open-ended cost of government in Minneapolis.
One of those came from Christopher Hughes, who watched the assessed value of his Lynnhurst bungalow rise for years and finally decided to take action when it shot up more than $50,000 this year.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to live here,” he said.
In fact, it’s already driving out some longtime residents who can no longer afford the price of government in a city they never planned to leave.
And there may be more bad news for those concerned about the rising values: Many are still lagging behind the swift growth of the market, said [property tax attorney Nick]Furia.
“In many instances with homes, the assessments haven’t caught up with market values,” he said. “So a lot of homes are under-assessed.”
So where are the city officials who complain about the lack of affordable housing in Minneapolis now that they could actually do something to make a difference?