RED WING -- Goodhue County set its preliminary levy and budget on Tuesday. The preliminary levy is an increase from 2020 while the tax rate is a decrease of 0.98%.

The preliminary budget was set at $74,735,833. This is a reduction of about $6.5 million from the 2020 budget. The preliminary levy was set at $37,932,778, an increase from 2020 of close to $1.06 million.

The final budget and levy approved in December can be the same or lower than the preliminary numbers, they cannot be increased after September. Commissioner Brad Anderson explained during Tuesday’s meeting that he wants to make sure that the preliminary numbers are high enough to ensure that everything needed would be included in the final budget and levy for 2021. He explained:

“I would be elated if we could get to a zero budget -- a 0% increase -- by the end of the year. I think doing it now is too early. I think we need to see what happens from here through October and into November before we go to that point.”

The board considered options but passed recommendation No. 1.

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Board Chair Paul Drotos stated, “I think the most flexible proposal that’s being presented is item number one, which tries to preserve our tax rate decrease, gives us more flexibility going forward until Oct. 15 at least, and overall gives citizens the idea that this board is trying to do the best they can with the information they have, which we won’t have until October.”

Commissioners Barney Nesseth and Jason Majerus voted against the preliminary budget and levy because they wanted to see no increase in the levy.

“It’s been a tough year for a lot of businesses and things like that and I would like to not see a tax increase on our residents this year,” Nesseth said.

Commissioner Linda Flanders voted with Drotos and Anderson to set the preliminary numbers.

A public comment meeting about the budget and levy will be held Tuesday, Dec. 1. The board will vote on the final 2021 budget and levy Tuesday, Dec. 15