Your property tax bill is likely to go up more than five times the rate of inflation.

If you live in Manhattan, the combined tax increase from the city, county and school district is going to be more than 6 percent, according to a report in the Sunday Mercury. All three entities are raising their tax rates to pay for new positions, employee raises and equipment. The biggest bump appears to be from the school district, up by more than 10%, in part because of voter-approved school building projects. The district is also giving out substantial raises for teachers and staff.

The entities could still trim the budgets somewhat, but residents should be prepared for a substantial increase in the tax bill.

We don’t view local governments here as wild spenders, but this year’s increase ought to set off some alarm bells. The rate of inflation in the past year in the Midwest has been about 1.2%. So the tax bill increase for the average homeowner is more than five times that much.

Manhattan’s slow-and-steady growth over the years has made mild increases in taxes sensible and probably necessary. Local governments are being asked to do more than ever, due to changes at the state and federal levels. It’s also difficult to compete for labor, and so some increases in pay for public employees also makes sense.

Elected officials also have a tough job — often they get elected talking about cutting budgets and holding down expenses, and then they can’t actually turn that rhetoric into reality because they begin to realize the importance of local government services that they oversee. We’re not asking them here to start indiscriminately whacking.

But this kind of bottom-line increase is unsustainable over the longer haul, and so administrators and elected officials need to start figuring out other ways to proceed.

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