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County to consider local option sales tax

Fri, Jul 25th, 2014
Posted in All Government

County Engineer Ron Gregg reviewed an eight-year capital improvement plan for county roads at the board’s July 22 meeting. The plan has to be in place, detailing specific improvement projects, before funds can be generated by a Local Option Sales Tax.

Gregg explained that the county has two options to gain needed additional funding for pavement surface preservation, bridge replacements, and for 3-digit roads. In 2013 the state enacted two laws to give individual counties a way to increase funding for roads. The board is leaning toward the Local Option Sales Tax which is a half cent sales tax. It is estimated that this tax will capture nearly $900,000 in 2015 and more in each of the following years.

A sales tax would allow the county to get some of the revenue from tourists that visit and make purchases in the county.

The Wheelage Tax, which the county is not currently considering, is a straight $10 charge per vehicle. It is estimated that it could raise about $234,500 per year in Fillmore County.

The reconstruction of CSAH 1 starting in 2016 will leave no funding for pavement preservation in 2016, 2017, and 2018. It will consume most of the county state aid funding.

Gregg maintained, that the sooner surface maintenance occurs, less dollars will need to be expended to preserve a road. Three-digit county roads are funded strictly by county levy dollars. Some of these 3-digit roads are paved and there is no future funding for the preservation of these roads.

Commissioner Randy Dahl insisted that we don’t want to expend local property taxes for these necessary projects. Gregg added that the intent of the sales tax is not to reduce the levy, but to produce funds to catch up on work that is not being done.

Dahl commented that people he has talked to realize there is work that needs to be done and they know that projects take money. They are concerned about increases in property taxes. The local sales tax would be preferable. He added that the county will still be seeking grant money. Chairman Duane Bakke said the federal government doesn’t have an interest in funding 3-digit roads.

A public hearing will be required before the board makes their decision. The board will consider setting a date for the public hearing at its August 5 meeting. The local sales tax must be approved 90 days before the next quarter when the collection of the tax can start.

Other Business In Brief

•A grant for a short spur along Highway 16 to connect Eagle Cliff Campground to the state bike trail at Whalan has been denied for a second time. It had been applied for through the state bike trail grant funding. Bakke said they have just asked for a 5 foot wide half mile stretch of asphalt.

Dahl insisted it hasn’t been for a lack of effort on the part of local officials. He requested that Gregg draft a letter to be sent to our legislators detailing all that has been done to make it happen. There had also been a willingness of local campground owners to expend some funds. Dahl said he would appreciate the help of our local legislators in the future to move this forward.

•Jennifer Nelson, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), and Sue Kolling, board member from Spring Valley, reported on some of the projects supported by the foundation within the county in the past year. SMIF has also partnered with five community foundations. Its focus is on early childhood development and business development. The county has contributed $1,000 per year or about 5 cents per capita for the last couple of decades. Nelson requested that the county increase its support level to about 10 cents per capita or $2,000 for this next year.

•Social Services Manager Neva Beier asked the board to authorize a letter of support for Billy Edwards of Nehemiah Family Services to become licensed in Fillmore County. The current provider for outpatient chemical dependency is closing in August. This outpatient service will be located at the United Methodist Church in Preston.

The letter of support was approved.

•Sheila Craig, Community Wastewater Facilitator, explained that the committee for the Greenleafton sewer project had recommended that the county board set the interest rate at 3 percent to be charged to residents for their loans. The county has to pay 1 percent back for the Small Community Loan through the Public Facilities Authority. The difference would cover administrative costs and reimburse services of county staff. The loans can be paid off by residents at any time and payments will be collected with property tax statements. The interest rate was set at 3 percent.

•A request to retire effective September 11 for Joanie Betsinger, Public Health Nurse, was approved. She has served the county for 26 years.

•The resignation of Sandra Underbakke, PC/Network Technician, effective August 4 was accepted. There was some discussion about the turnover in this department. Sheriff Daryl Jensen remarked that they rely on technology more than ever. County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman agreed that some analysis could be beneficial, adding that we are behind and have new systems. The board approved the advertisement for a replacement PC/Network Technician.

•Donna Rasmussen, SWCD Administrator, and Jennifer Ronnenberg, SWCD Water Management Coordinator, reviewed financial reports for two grants. The board approved signing the reports for the Wetland Conservation Act Grant and the Local Water Management Grant. The grants are used mostly to help pay for staff time.


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1:30:09, Jul 27th 2014

wow says:
Living on the Iowa border I will do all my shopping in Iowa if they do that!


7:50:52, Jul 28th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
@wow-so you're willing to spend more on gas money to buy in Iowa when the proposed half-cent sales tax would only amount to an addition 50-cents for every $100 purchase?? If you can't afford an additional 50-cents per $100, how could you afford the additional gas money to buy your goods in Iowa??


4:02:43, Jul 29th 2014

wow says:
Didn't read did you. I live on Iowa border doesn't take anymore had then going yo harmony or Preston
Plus Iowa gas is cheaper


7:19:30, Jul 29th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
Wow- so you're still going to do your shopping in Iowa to save 50-cents for every $100 you'd spend? I know some people are frugal and I try to be frugal but to save 50-cents for every $100? That's beyond frugality.

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