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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
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State Veterans’ Cemetery steps closer


Fri, Aug 23rd, 2013
Posted in All Government

At the Fillmore County Board’s August 20 meeting county attorney Brett Corson guided the commissioners through a few of the last legal steps before officially transferring a portion of the county farm to the State of Minnesota for a State Veterans’ Cemetery.

The board unanimously approved providing a warranty deed promising good title to the state for four parcels of land(A,B,E, and F), which total about 153 acres. The county retains parcels C and D, which include tillable land. A formal ceremony for the transfer of the land to the state is being planned for sometime in September or October. Veterans Service Officer Jason Marquardt reported that development of the cemetery may be completed in one year.

Chairman Randy Dahl thanked everyone who worked to make the cemetery a reality over the last several years.

Erlyn and Sandra Marzolf had agreed to release the county from the current access easement. An agreement was then approved promising to provide a new access easement for Marzolf so access may be gained to their land adjacent to the county property. The county will have to pay for surveying, recording, and construction of the easement area to be completed by 2014. The access will not be for public use. Commissioner Duane Bakke said he will get a cost estimate on what it will cost to punch through the woods and check to see if there will be any wetland issues and report back to the board.

During the intervening time until the new access is constructed, Marzolf may get a temporary access easement from the city of Preston, Minn. to access his land on the east side of the Root River by pick-up or four wheeler. Marzolf will be not allowed take heavy farm equipment across the temporary easement. A special use permit for the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail was also issued by the DNR until the county constructs the new access.

Privatization of

Heritage Grove

Mike Bubany, David Drown & Associates, addressed the board in his capacity as a financial consultant for the city of Harmony. The Harmony EDA in 2001 constructed Heritage Grove, a 34 unit senior living facility. The city has managed the facility since it opened.

A potential buyer, Three Rivers Properties, LLC, has been found and the sale is scheduled to close on August 29. Bubany explained there will be an estimated $535,000 shortfall, the difference between Harmony EDA’s obligation and the sale price. Harmony plans to fund a little over $300,000 of the shortfall with a city tax abatement for 20 years.

The request from Harmony EDA and the city is that the county participate by providing a forgivable loan to the Harmony EDA. The county EDA recommended going forward with the request.

Bubany said the sale is happening regardless of whether or not the county agrees to participate. The property will become taxable next year. The city is prepared to use reserves and supplemental borrowing to cover the difference.

Bubany detailed the justification for the total request of $57,168. Harmony recently decertified its Downtown TIF district returning $19,033 to the county this past March. Harmony is requesting that this money be returned to the city. Also, with the Heritage Grove privatization, the county will receive an estimated $7,185 in property taxes each year. The county now receives $2,100 per year of payment in lieu of taxes for the property while owned by a government unit. Seventy-five percent of the difference between the estimated tax and what the county now receives is $3,814.

Over 10 years that would total $38,135. This amount would be the forgivable loan Harmony EDA and the city are requesting which would be forgiven if the new owners continue to pay their property taxes for the next 10 years. Bubany explained that no payments would be made on the $38,135 loan by the city over the 10 year period, but if not all property taxes to the county were paid over that period, the city would guarantee repayment at the end. He added that this method is the quickest and the easiest, but the city would be open to an alternate method.

The normal abatement process would take more time to set up and have more administrative cost. A motion was made and approved to consider the request contingent on review by the county attorney and a county policy review.

Other Business In Brief

•R. Ross Reichard, M.D., Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner Office, reviewed data from 2012 and 2013. Sixty-nine deaths had been reported in 2012 with nine being certified by postmortem examination. Sixty-one deaths were from natural causes, two suicides, one undetermined, and five accidental. In the first six months of 2013 48 deaths have been reported to the medical examiner with five being certified by postmortem examination. Forty-one deaths were from natural causes, one homicide, two suicides, and four accidental.

Reichard noted that the public doesn’t appreciate the fact that a number of elderly die from non-natural causes, often as the result of a fall.

•The board continued scrutinizing departmental budgets. Seven divisions under Community Services were reviewed. The proposed 2014 budget as of August 20 showed a levy increase of $901,899 or a 10.69 percent increase.

The public hearing for the county proposed 2014 budget and levy will be held at 6p.m. on Tuesday, November 26.

•Jessy Betts was hired as a full time replacement deputy sheriff for the Harmony-Mabel-Canton contract.

•There was more discussion of whether to replace retiring county coordinator Karen Brown with another coordinator position or with an administrator position. Bakke said the way we are set up now is probably the way we want to go. Commissioner Tom Kaase agreed that our current set up has worked well for us, adding the position Karen Brown has developed has served us well. Commissioners had more information to review and expect to make a decision at the next board meeting.

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