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Think your taxes are high? It could be worse...

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News Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501 http://www.dl-online.com/sites/all/themes/dlonline_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Think your taxes are high? It could be worse...
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Think property tax rates in Detroit Lakes are way too high?

Here's some cold comfort in this holiday season: Tax rates are a lot worse in similar-sized cities around the state.

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According to information from the League of Minnesota Cities, Detroit Lakes' tax rate is the lowest among 20 cities with populations ranging from 8,283 (Detroit Lakes) to 19,040 (Willmar).

Detroit Lakes' rate is also lower than cities with populations that are smaller, such as East Grand Forks.

Detroit Lakes residents benefit from a growing tax base and revenue from city-owned enterprises like the public utilities department and the municipal liquor store.

Residents also benefit from reasonable tax rates set by the city, Becker County and the Detroit Lakes School District.

Here's a look at the numbers: With a tax base of about $9 million, Detroit Lakes' city tax rate is 31 percent. That, combined with a county rate of 43 percent and a school district rate of 12 percent, along with special taxing districts, gives the city a total average tax rate of 88 percent.

That compares to a city tax rate of 54 percent in East Grand Forks, which has a tax base of $5.2 million and a population of 7,879.

The county tax rate there is 72 percent and the school rate is 10 percent, for a total average tax rate of 143 percent.

(Average tax rates are used because some cities are overlapped by several school districts, counties, or special taxing districts).

Fergus Falls has a tax base a little higher than Detroit Lakes -- $9.5 million, and a population of nearly 14,000.

Its city tax rate is 43 percent. The Otter tail County tax rate is 35 percent and the school district rate there is 28 percent, for a total tax rate of 107 percent.

Alexandria has a population of 11,481 and a tax base of $12.6 million. Its city tax rate is 34 percent, the county rate is 42 percent and the school rate is 12 percent, for a total rate of 90 percent, putting it just higher than DL in the state rankings.

In Thief River Falls, the property tax burden is twice that of Detroit Lakes.

With a tax base of $3.4 million and a population of 8,515, Thief River Falls has a total tax rate of 166 percent. That includes a county rate of 81 percent, a city rate of 49 percent and a school district rate of 30 percent.

Bemidji, like Detroit Lakes, is a growing regional center. Bemidji's total tax rate is 116 percent, which includes a county rate of 57 percent, a city rate of 36 percent and a school district rate of 23 percent. It has a tax base of $8.3 million and a population of more than 13,000.

Here's how some of the other cities in the area stack up:

Frazee has a total tax rate of 129 percent. That includes a city rate of 62 percent, a school district rate of 22 percent and a county rate of 44 percent.

Lake Park has a total tax rate of 79 percent. That includes a city tax rate of 28 percent, a school district tax rate of just 4 percent and the county rate of 44 percent.

Callaway has a total tax rate of 97 percent, including a city rate of 39 percent and a (Detroit Lakes) school district rate of 22 percent.

Vergas has a total tax rate of 107 percent, including a city rate of 49 percent and an (Otter Tail) county rate of 36 percent.

Audubon has a total tax rate of 113 percent, including a city rate of 62 percent and a school district rate of 4 percent.

Wolf Lake has a total tax rate of 130 percent, including a 63 percent city rate and a 23 percent school district rate.

Perham has a 110 percent total tax rate, including a 54 percent city rate and a 16 percent school district rate.

The cities with the highest tax rates included Virginia, Grand Rapids, Waseca, New Ulm and Little Falls.

Even though Detroit Lakes' tax rate is low, the amount of local government aid (LGA) it gets from the state is less than what other cities receive.

Of the 19 similar-sized cities that received LGA in 2008, Detroit Lakes received the least -- $919,647.

That compares to $1.34 million for Alexandria and $1.2 million for Grand Rapids, which received the second- and third-lowest LGA amounts.

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