by Joni Astrup
Sherburne County Auditor-Treasurer Diane Arnold had a pleasant surprise when people paid their first half of real estate taxes on May 15.
She was expecting collections to be down about 20% to 30%, but that wasn’t the case at all.
“Our predictions went right out the window,” Arnold told the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
“They went out the right window,” quipped Board Chair Felix Schmiesing. “That’s good news.”
The county is set to collect approximately $152 million in property taxes this year. That includes the taxes earmarked for Sherburne County as well as those for school districts, cities, townships and other taxing districts in the county.
So far Sherburne County has collected about $78 million, more than half of the amount property taxpayers are slated to pay this year.
“We are really doing quite well. I was really amazed and surprised,” Arnold told the County Board.
Last month, with unemployment, lost or reduced wages and the loss of business income brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the board agreed to ease penalties for property taxpayers paying late. Arnold said some people paid what they could on May 15 and were thankful that the penalties were reduced.
“It’s been a struggle and it still is a struggle, as you know, for a lot of small businesses out there,” she said.
Others have paid their property tax bill in full, rather than paying half in May and half later in the year, she said.