Sheila Kiscaden, co-chair Southeast Minnesota Together, addressed the Fillmore County Board at their March 14 meeting. She requested their help in an appeal to Rep. Greg Davids and Senator Jeremy Miller to get the legislature to fund the SE MN Together Transit Action Team’s effort. SE MN Together wants to develop a comprehensive assessment and financial plan for a Transportation Management Organization (TMO) for the 11 counties in southeast Minnesota.
A TMO is to be locally controlled and a lower-cost way to better leverage existing transportation resources and to develop new resources to meet the region’s growing transportation needs.
Transportation costs in the region represent 18% of a family’s total monthly cost, which is above average. The region has many transit-dependent populations who access services, including the elderly, people with disabilities, low income and young riders who depend on transportation services to get to health care appointments, schools, and other services. Southeast Minnesota needs more affordable workforce transportation. Transportation is needed particularly in rural areas.
SE MN Together is seeking $350,000 to create structure and to deliver a detailed financial plan for a three-year startup implementation phase, including public and private funding sources. Kiscaden asked why not ask the legislature to fund the study? She said the request “needs to come from the communities that will get the most benefit and have the most need.”
A motion was approved to draft a letter of support for the TMO study and to request it be funded by the legislature. The letter will be sent to Davids and Miller.
2023 assessment overview
County Assessor Jason McCaslin detailed changes in the 2023 assessment. The Department of Revenue had calculated a 12.56% residential increase due to inflation. McCaslin said this trend was successfully appealed to 0%.
Price related differential was discussed. His office is striving for the trend line to be flat so higher valued properties are not under assessed and lower valued properties are not over assessed. Adjustments have been applied based on the year built and the percent of depreciation applied to properties.
McCaslin said his primary agenda is to get everything reassessed by the appraisers. They are striving for equity in assessments.
Jurisdictions with six or more sales are required to have a median sale ratio at a compliant level (90%-105%). McCaslin aims for a percent in the mid 90s. He said they are making progress on five-year small sample studies; several jurisdictions were significantly out of compliance.
Agricultural sales had a median ratio of 76.41%. A 30% increase to tillable land values was applied to bring the median ratio back into compliance. Timber land values increased to $4,300 per acre.
The commercial/industrial median ratio was far below compliance at 70.63%. The northern commercial/industrial area in Spring Valley and Mabel were selected for reassessment. In some cases, the dollar amount per square foot was very low. A complete reassessment was completed for part of Spring Valley’s commercial/industrial properties. He said they singled out an area that needed attention.
The total estimated market value for Fillmore County will increase 16.7%. If jurisdiction budgets remain about the same while adding this much tax capacity, tax rate calculations will cause rates to decrease. McCaslin added his office continually works toward everyone paying their fair share of the tax liability.
The board approved the use of unallocated funds for the assessor to publish information in the Fillmore County Journal regarding 2024 valuation notices which should go out in late March, early April.
Other business in brief
• Approval was granted to discontinue contractual services with Hiawatha Mental Health for children’s mental health targeted case management. The contract will terminate effective May 1.
• One bid was submitted for the surfacing reconditioning of CR 118 from CSAH 5 into Forestville State Park. The contract was awarded to Rochester Sand & Gravel with a bid of $1,425,591.15. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $1,435,691.10. County Engineer Ron Gregg said the State Park Road grant will fund 100% of the cost of the project.
• A detour agreement with MnDOT for the use of CSAH 1 and CSAH 2 for a bridge replacement project on trunk Highway 30 west of Chatfield was approved. The county will be reimbursed $23,599.22 for maintenance and road life consumed on the detour while the existing bridge is removed and reconstructed. Authorization was granted to execute the agreement.
• Chelsey Rislov was hired to fill a RN/LPN position, effective April 17.
• Ashley Borreson was hired as a replacement eligibility worker, effective March 20.
• A resolution was adopted regarding the Opioid Settlement agreement. County administrator Bobbie Hillery explained there will be a separate fund for new dollars coming in. Fillmore County agrees to the State-Subdivision Agreement and supports and opts into all future multistate settlement agreements with opioid supply chain participants.
• Office 365 implementation contract and agreement with Marco was approved. A one-time payment to Marco for professional services will be made in the amount of $43,460. Monthly expenses will be in the amount of $2,611.20. Hillery said this will be a change for users and suggested that team members be trained in house to help users adapt.
• Joel Kroening, Solid Waste administrator, requested and received approval of nine waste Hauler Licenses.
• The county board will meet next on March 28.
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