Starting in 1999, MLR has periodically conducted a phone survey of lake home and cabin owners. The results have always been enlightening. For instance, the average household income of a MN Lake Home and Cabin owner is about $58,000. The average length of ownership is 34 years, one of the highest in the nation. There is lots of great information for you here.
This Local AIS Action Framework (LAAF) is the result of a collaboration between many people in many different arenas of aquatic invasive species work in Minnesota. This version, dated March 1, 2015, is the latest draft and reflects attendee comments and suggestions.
MLR Pushes Major Property Tax Reform
During the 2014 session the MN Legislature and Governor Dayton passed a number of changes that have lowered or stabilized property taxes in many areas of the state. Other areas are experiencing modest growth in property taxes. Increased LGU payments, increased school payments, a one year levy limit, removal of sales tax on local government purchases and changes to some Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments have lessened the extreme tax pressure that riparian property owners faced.
But these are short term fixes only and major structural problems still exist. Without further changes and major reform Minnesota will again find itself facing red ink with the next economic hiccup. Minnesota's property tax system creates a host of disincentives for the preservation and protection of our natural capital. At a time when Minnesota is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to protect, enhance and restore our forests, prairies, wetlands and shore lines, our state and local fiscal system ensures we will not meet our conservation goals.
Incentives for good lake shore protection must be a part of any reform. In 2015 MLR will advance a set of shoreline incentives known as the Sustainable Shoreline Incentive Act.
Counties lack the resources to enforce shoreland regulations leaving a system of neighbor reporting neighbor to enforce these laws, a terrible situation. The rejection of the Draft Shoreline Rules by Governor Pawlenty and the inability to reauthorize and pass shoreland standards since then is evidence that regulation alone cannot protect our waters. Local boards of appeal regularly give variances believing, incorrectly, that by promoting questionable development they are strengthening their local economy.
The blog Strong Towns does a good job of debunking this " Growth Ponzi Scheme."
MLR knows that even though regulations are a good tool, alone they will not meet our conservation goals. The Minnesota Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan urges incentives as a cost effective way to achieve conservation goals.
Minnesota's property tax system aggressively selects for ever greater subdivision and development of shore line, and it applies this pressure relentlessly, year after year in good economies and bad.
The problem is best summarized by a statement made by a Lake Vermilion assessor, "We used to mine iron ore, now we mine lake shore."
Minnesota must stop mining its forests and shore lines for revenue... We need incentives to level the playing field for the environment.
- cannot buy all of the land needed to preserve our water quality and critical forest habitats;
- cannot enforce the regulations currently on the books.
- cannot update regulations;
- land owners want to do the right thing by and large, but cannot afford to hold onto their land and shore line;
Incentives should be:
- revenue neutral to local and state governments;
- large enough to change behavior and turn shore line consumers into shore line conservationists;
- fair to all property classes
"Saving Minnesota's Recreational Lands for Public Enjoyment" meets the above public policy objectives.