LAKE SHORE -- Frustration about escalating property taxes prompted the Lake Shore City Council Monday to pass a motion freezing valuations of property for residents who are 62 and older.
There is doubt, however, that the motion will have any binding effect since such action may be outside of the city's jurisdiction.
City Administrator Teri Hastings said the motion, which passed 4-1, was adopted in the spirit of wishful thinking. City Attorney Steven Qualley, who learned of the motion Monday afternoon, said he would have to research the question.
"The city has the ability to reduce it (a property valuation) somewhat," he said. "I don't know if it has the ability to make a blanket reduction."
Mayor Don McFarland, who introduced the motion when the council was meeting as the board of equalization, said he was prompted to act because many people were having difficulty paying taxes on their property. For people with high property valuations who don't want to sell their property, it's a terrible situation, he said.
His motion was a way for the city of Lake Shore to state that it was sick and tired of high property taxes. He described the vote as symbolic.
"Just to say that we care...that we know what they're going through," he said. "It has no bite at all. We've said it and we've done it."
Asked if he was afraid the motion might raise false hopes on the part of seniors who would expect their property valuations to be frozen, McFarland said he had no clue.
"I don't know what the answer is going to be," he said. "I've got a call in for the governor. He professes to really care about taxes."
Casting the dissenting vote Monday was Vicki LaMere, who works in the Crow Wing County Auditor's Office.
LaMere said it's not that she wouldn't like to freeze property valuations but she said the city has no jurisdiction in the matter.
"I understand that (the tax problem) and I'm compassionate about that but I also know what the law reads and how the system works. "
She said she wasn't sure the council took the motion seriously.
"Property taxation goes state law and the county assessor's office has certain duties they have to go by," she said. "It's their job to administer state law according to valuation."
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