The April 12 Harmony City Council meeting opened with the Board of Equalization and Appeals. Fillmore County Assessor Jason McCaslin gave a presentation to the council explaining how property taxes and assessments work. The role of the assessor is to ensure that the property tax burden is distributed equitably and according to Minnesota statutes. Physical property inspections are required every five years and the assessor’s office must value each property every year. McCaslin noted that he has a fairly new staff and so he is emphasizing to them that the data must be their own, asking them to gather information themselves rather than relying on what’s available from former assessors.
McCaslin pointed out that property values can fluctuate, especially with the level of inflation that is taking place not just in Fillmore County, but just about everywhere. Property tax notices are sent to property owners in March and appeals should be done as soon as possible after that to allow time for them to follow the proper channels in a timely manner. He noted that assessment data is available to anyone and that the Beacon website is a good place to review that information. “It’s important for people to take a look at that,” he said.
Since property tax statements were sent out to Harmony residents, four of them have reached out to the assessor’s office with questions. Of those four, three were reassessed to include the interior of the home which led to two of them having their value decreased. There was no change recommended on the other two properties in question. The council approved the recommendations from the assessor’s office.
The consent agenda was approved and included the minutes of the regular March meeting, the claims and March checks, the cash balances, a mosquito fogging contract, a liquor license for a Conservation Club event, the appointment of Rod Johnson to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the hiring of a summer worker.
City Engineer Brett Grabau presented a quote from Generation X in the amount of $41,395 to the council. It was recently discovered that the plumbing for the splashpad needs to meet plumbing codes as the property is considered private as it does not have a public right-of way, requiring additional costs and work to be done. “I don’t feel that Generation X’s quote is too far out of range,” Grabau said, adding that he doesn’t believe getting further quotes will bring the price down. The quote was approved. The council discussed where the funds to cover the new bill would come from and decided to ask the Community Fund for $20,000 and use the Don Wilken fund to cover the rest.
A quote in the amount of $7,000 from J&M Displays for the July 4 fireworks was reviewed. City Administrator Devin Swanberg said that the quote needed to be approved right away in order to get the 8% early payment discount which was factored into the total amount. The council approved the fireworks purchase.
It was noted that the council needs to start considering the switch from chlorine to UV for the wastewater treatment plant as the prices to do so are continuing to rise.
A $45,000 offer from the City of Lafayette, Minn., was received for Harmony’s old Ford 550 truck. Swanberg noted that the trade-in price would be in the $30,000 range. The council approved the sale.
The EDA reported that the KTNS Trucking project is on hold indefinitely due to rising gas and construction prices.
The council approved the awarding of a $100 Fine Arts Scholarship from the Arts Board to one Fillmore Central senior student.
A motion was approved to write a check to the Chamber of Commerce for the quarterly lodging tax. Five percent of the total amount stays with the city as an administrative fee.
The next Harmony City Council meeting will be held on May 10 at 7 p.m.