Eagan homeowners get double-digit tax hike

EAGAN, MN – Eagan’s working households took a double whammy this week. As one of the city’s largest employers, Thomson Reuters, sent termination notices to workers, Dakota County sent out notices of property tax hikes of more than 13 percent.
   The tax increase means that owners of houses on the low end of Eagan’s market, under $200,000, will pay hundreds of dollars more in property taxes next year. Most of the newest homes in Eagan are priced higher, around $700,000.  
   The city of Eagan’s tax bill will cost 13.5 percent more in 2019. Much of the increase is the result of the need to hire more police and firefighters because of development in the city, particularly Viking Lakes in northeast Eagan, and massive renovations to city hall and police headquarters.
   Another large portion of the increase comes from a 13.3 percent increase in school district 196’s levy. The school district has been spending on pay increases for teachers, staff, administrators and even the school board; construction of new schools and renovations at existing schools; and new furniture, equipment and appliances. The school district is one of five taxing agencies on the county property tax bill, all of which have hiked property taxes in 2019.
   Dakota County itself will be boosting taxes about 12.2 percent. The Metropolitan Council, the St. Paul-based taxing district that funds projects outside Eagan, is adding its share to the property tax increase with a 16.5 percent hike.

Alleged shooting threat prompts lockdown

HASTINGS, MN – An Eagan man whose alleged threats caused his former employer to lock down the business was released from jail Tuesday on $75,000 bail with conditions.
   Jeremy Listerud, 42, of 4395 Robert Trail South, Eagan, was charged with felony threats of violence as a result of a Nov. 8 social media post, according to court records. The prosecution concealed the name of the Eagan business Listerud allegedly threatened.
   Eagan police allege Listerud posted a response to a comment on social media saying “what happened to me … in Eagan, MN today deserves a shooting too. The firing of someone with a $12.50/hr income so managers can do the bar scene and still have holiday gifts is selfish. I am about ready to do the mass shooting since I am losing mybplace [sic] to live in a few weeks for some [expletive deleted] in management in the Eagan, MN [name of business concealed] to go up on incomes”
   Eagan police notified the business of the comment, which prompted the business’s corporate office to order a lockdown and station armed security at the site. A manager told police the suspect had been “released…from his employment” the day before “after concerns with how Listerud was behaving at the workplace.”
   Eagan police spoke to Listerud at his home, according to court records. Police reported Listerud “denied intending to harm anyone” and claimed the statement was taken out of context.
   The Dakota County district court ordered Listerud to surrender weapons as a condition of bail.

Thomson Reuters sheds workers

EAGAN, MN – Following the sale of one of its divisions and a dismal third-quarter earnings report, one of Eagan’s largest employers, Thomson Reuters, has been shedding jobs this week, with some employees notified they will no longer have a job at the start of the new year.
    The company, which bought Minnesota’s West Publishing in 1996, is remaining tight-lipped about the cuts. The company did confirm, to a local newspaper in New York, that it was closing its Rochester, New York office, which employed about 500 workers. The company has released no statement about cuts to its Eagan office, which, along with and office near Dallas, is expected to remain one of two central operations sites in the country.
    Thomson Reuters’ stock price has risen about $10 per share since May, after the announcement of a deal to sell off a majority stake in one of its divisions to Blackstone Capital. The company recently reported a 44 percent decline in its operating profit compared to the third-quarter of 2017 and a 59 percent decline in earnings per share.
    The company, which once claimed 7,000 employees at the Eagan office, has cut workers in recent years and replaced some staff with temporary workers who don’t receive health insurance or paid sick time, vacation, or retirement benefits and workers from other countries on H1B visas.
    Some of the employees losing their jobs before the end of the year are long-time employees who worked for West Publishing for decades, accruing pensions and other benefits. Although some departments have been cut, Thomson Reuters has also been hiring recent college graduates at the Eagan location.

CDA worker charged with theft from agency

EAGAN, MN – The Dakota County District Court has issued a nationwide arrest warrant for a former employee of the county’s public housing office suspected of stealing more than a quarter of a million dollars from the agency.
   The court Friday issued an arrest warrant and criminal complaint against Vangyee Yang, 39, of 5909 Main St. NE, Fridley. Yang is charged with five counts of felony theft by swindle, according to court records. Police allege Yang, an IT worker at the Dakota County Community Development Agency (CDA) in Eagan, diverted more than $271,325 from the agency over two years. Yang was fired from the agency last June, according to a previous statement by the agency. Officials have not commented about the complaint released Friday and gave no explanation for the more than four-month delay in bringing charges against Yang.
   CDA officials did not respond to a request for comment Friday. The agency has posted a notice that the office is closed for a three-day weekend and staff won’t return to work until Tuesday.
   The charges are the latest in a series of reported frauds involving CDA funds. In late October, a 27-year-old woman was charged with theft after investigators discovered she had been receiving public welfare rental assistance from the CDA while she was allegedly driving a Maserati sports car and making a living selling heroin with her roommate.
   In the criminal complaint released Friday, investigators allege Yang used his position as a software system coordinator at the CDA to set up accounts and send checks to his home and other addresses. Yang was hired by the CDA in 2014 and promoted, within a year and a half, to the system coordinator position, which gave him access to CDA computer systems and authorization to set up accounts.
   In May 2018, the CDA discovered rental assistance checks had been sent to two property management companies for welfare recipients that were dead or no longer eligible. The checks sent to the property management companies were deposited into  TCF small business bank accounts owned by Yang, according to the complaint.
   The CDA’s discovery of the missing funds occurred more than a year after the bulk of the money was diverted, according to information contained in the criminal complaint. The issuance of a nationwide warrant, rather than limiting arrest to the state, indicates Yang might no longer be in Minnesota.