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Polco News & Knowledge

How Shakopee Made Taxpayer Education Enticing

shakopee taxpayer education

The Minnesota City utilized Polco’s Taxpayer Receipt— and a funny promotional video— to increase financial transparency and improve taxpayer education. 

“There are some difficult things about living in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes,” says a resident of Shakopee, Minnesota, as she walks through the City’s downtown. “Like deciding which family’s hot dish is better, being the one to take the last bite of doughnut in the breakroom, or keeping the faith with the Vikings.” 

“But you know what isn’t difficult about living in Shakopee?” she says, looking up from her laptop. “Finding your property tax receipt.”

This scene is from a video the City of Shakopee produced to get residents to try out Taxpayer Receipt by Polco. The tool is an itemized breakdown of each homeowner's individual taxes presented in a familiar format, like any other store receipt. 

Both the video and the Taxpayer Receipt tool make the unglamorous topic of taxes more fun and approachable. 

The Value of Approachable Budget Conversations

“I’ve worked in local government finance for the past two decades, and it’s always been a struggle to be able to communicate our budget in a way that is relatable to residents,” said the City’s finance director, Nate Reinhardt.

The tool shows residents the good deal they get on government services. 

“Someone who owns a home valued at $350,000 might use the tool and be surprised to learn they only pay $14 annually for snow removal services," Reinhardt said.

But more importantly, the Taxpayer Receipt helps the City of Shakopee achieve its ultimate goal of increasing budget transparency. 

“Budget transparency is key to building trust between governments and the people they serve,” said Chris Adams, the founder of Balancing Act and creator of the Taxpayer Receipt tool. 

Trust is vital to the proper functioning of local government. Trust means more residents are willing to support taxes, participate in government, and involve themselves in community solutions.

How Shakopee Used Humor To Promote the Taxpayer Receipt Education

Screenshot 2024-02-12 at 12.26.32 PMFinding a better way to communicate the value of homeowner taxes was only half the battle. The City needed to get the Taxpayer Receipt in residents’ hands.  

“We understood that not all residents find city budget information as fascinating as our finance staff,” Reinhardt said. “We really wanted a video that was fun, engaging, relatable to Shakopee residents, and would intrigue our audience enough to click the link and try out the Taxpayer Receipt tool for themselves.” 

The City’s finance and communications departments produced the video internally. Using humor, they contrast common Minnesota “problems” with the ease of using the Taxpayer Receipt tool.

The approach worked. 

The City posted the video on their social media accounts. To date, the video has over 22,000 views across social media platforms and dozens of positive comments and shares. 

Shakopee residents had positive feedback on both the video and the Taxpayer Receipt. 

Shakopee's success in blending innovation, humor, and relatability to tackle the seemingly mundane topic of taxes serves as a model for other communities. The example shows the potential to make government more relatable while educating residents and demonstrating better financial transparency. 

Launch The Taxpayer Receipt in Your Community

Show your residents the value of their tax dollars with the Taxpayer Receipt tool by Polco. Community members anonymously input data to generate a customized estimate of taxes paid. Increase financial transparency for your local government and let residents know their money is put to good use. 

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