Below is a comparison for the year of 2011 between the Cities of Hibbing and Grand Rapids. This information comes directly from the State Auditor’s site, and is the most current available at this time. Take a minute and go through the numbers yourself. Consider also, how these numbers may impact the price of gasoline, for example.
So what did you think? It gives us a good indication of where some of our problems originate, doesn’t it?
Let’s start with the property tax line. Grand Rapids was $544.82 per capita, while Hibbing was only $249.24. Only 26 cities in Minnesota had higher per capita(per person) property taxes than Grand Rapids.
When we look at special assessments, we find that Grand Rapids collected $1,063,987, or $97.80 per capita, while Hibbing only collected $47,769 in this category, or $2.93 per person.
Licenses and permits for Grand Rapids were also much higher than Hibbing. $20.78 per capita for Grand Rapids, but only $8.82 for Hibbing.
One more interesting fact on the top half of the chart is the fact that Grand Rapids, in addition to the higher per capita tax, also borrowed $1,655,000, while Hibbing borrowed zero dollars.
Finally, the total expenditures for the City of Grand Rapids, population 10,879, were $23,152,838, while Hibbing, population 16,313, spent $18,603,894. Hibbing spent approximately four and a half million fewer dollars, even though they boast a population of almost 5500 more people. Grand Rapids spent $2128.21 per person while Hibbing only spent $1140.43 per person. This is 86.6% more in taxes for people in Grand Rapids than for people in Hibbing!
How does this apply to the cost of a gallon of gas? All of the money which the City of Grand Rapids spends does not come merely from the people who live there, a sizable portion of it also comes from the businesses, including gas stations. It stands to reason that since Grand Rapids is collecting more than double the per capita property taxes, the property taxes on businesses have to be significantly higher than in Hibbing, and this increased cost is included in the overhead to be passed along to the consumer. In a future article we will go much deeper into this situation. For now, we will stop at this one example.
In this article, we have seen that Grand Rapids collects far more in taxes than Hibbing, even though only being about 2/3 the size, by population. Now it is time for some questions.
Are we getting what we pay for?
How long can we continue to spend at this rate until we can no longer collect enough money to pay our bills?
If the taxes, along with the cost of doing business and the cost of owning or renting a home, went down significantly, wouldn’t more people be able to afford homes in Grand Rapids, and more businesses be able to move in and be profitable? How many people do you know who live outside of Grand Rapids simply because they can not afford to live in the city limits?
There has to be a better solution to our problems than high taxes and lots of spending. There were, as of 2011, only nine cities in the State of Minnesota which spent more per person than Grand Rapids. Do we really want to compete in taxing and spending with cities far wealthier than ours, or are we going to rein in the city apparatus and restore our finances to a sensible level?