Thursday, November 20, 2014

Research Q of the Week: TNT, Not Quite Dynamite (11/20)

Question: "TNT" a.k.a. Truth in Taxation? What’s up with that?

Answer: It’s a term that no longer shows up in the law, but you may still hear it bandied about.

And no, this is not about an AC/DC song. We're talking about city budgets here.

While “TNT” laws used to require expensive published notices and numerous public meetings, the intent of the law was to allow the public to speak to elected officials about city budgets at a public meeting—before those budgets were adopted. It only applied to larger cities, and a similar requirement still exists in current law. But the term “truth-in-taxation” used to refer to the multiple hearings was taken out of the law in 2009.

Let’s call these "public participation meetings" instead. Now, in cities with more than 500 residents, the public must be given a chance to speak to the council about city budgets at a public meeting, held at or after 6 p.m., when the city budget and levy is being discussed.  Also according to this law, this public participation meeting must occur sometime from Nov. 25 to Dec. 29 of 2014. And, it must take place before the budget and final tax levy is adopted. So as you plan your budget and levy discussions in the coming months, include a time for the public to speak, too.

For more information on these public participation meetings—oddly, I admit—still referred to as Truth in Taxation, see page 7 of the 2014 Budget Guide for Cities and instructions from the Dept. of Revenue.

I can’t resist reminding you of one more drop-dead date: all cities and special taxing districts must certify the final property tax levy to the county auditor by Dec. 29, 2014. If this deadline is missed, the final levy for 2014 will stay the same as it was in 2013. For more on that, see Chapter 22 of the Handbook for Minnesota Cities and the same Dept. of Revenue instructions, linked above.

Written by Jeanette Behr, research manager with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: jbehr@lmc.org or (651) 281-1228.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information. 

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