Crow Wing Co. Agrees to Not Have Brainerd Taxed Twice for Airport
Crow Wing County has agreed to release Brainerd residents from paying two separate taxes for the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
Last month, city council members agreed to formally request to be removed from the county’s annual levy for the airport. Now, the county and city are navigating potential options to best apply the change.
The city of Brainerd as well as Crow Wing County jointly fund Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, resulting in Brainerd residents being responsible for the same tax twice.
“We tax the residents of Crow Wing County, they tax the residents of the city of Brainerd,” said Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle. “The city of residents of Brainerd are in the county’s levy, too. So there are folks who are paying both to the county for the airport and to the city of Brainerd for the airport. That was their issue.”
Of the $157,000 the county plans to levy for the airport next year, about $9,420 of it comes from Brainerd taxpayers.
“So we made an offer back to the city to say, ‘We could increase our levy by that amount. They could decrease their levy by that amount,'” said Houle. “We still end up having to do the taxation, but it would be a way for us to exchange resources to leave the city hole. So we offered to do that.”
Houle also discussed other options the county could consider regarding the tax issue.
“The next best alternative we think does make sense for funding an airport is probably the county’s tax base,” added Houle. “So we’re willing to have a conversation with the city about long term, taking over ownership of the airport from them, relieving them of that $150,000 responsibility. That’s not a short-term proposition. That’ll be more of a long-term discussion.”
Houle also presented a third route the city could take involving the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority fund. Because Brainerd has its own HRA fund, the county’s HRA levy excludes taxpayers within the city. However, the condition could be bypassed if Brainerd provides municipal consent.
“We can’t go into the city of Brainerd and extend the Housing Trust Fund levy without the consent of the city council because of that law. And so we’re asking them for municipal consent,” explained Houle. “We can’t authorize projects within the city of Brainerd if the citizens of Brainerd are not paying into the fund that is used to fund the project in Brainerd.”
Brainerd City Administrator Patrick Wussow said there is already an upcoming meeting between him and Houle in December to discuss the county’s Housing Trust Fund.