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Green Acre forms need to be returned

Fri, Nov 21st, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Commissioner Duane Bakke made an announcement forewarning landowners with Green Acres at the board's November 18 meeting. Commissioner Stafford Hansen was absent.

Bakke stressed that one of the boxes must be checked on a form from a letter they received and the form returned before the January 2, 2009, deadline to keep their options open. If a land owner needs further clarification, he suggested contacting the assessor's office.

Minnesota legislators included changes to the Green Acre Program in the 2008 omnibus tax bill passed late in the session. The change in the Minnesota tax law could cause farmers to have to pay back-taxes on agricultural land that is not being used for agricultural production.

The Green Acres Program was designed to keep the tax value lower on some rural land. Because of the changes made in the 2008 tax bill, some untillable land would no longer qualify in the Green Acre Program. If a land owner sold some of this untillable land, back property taxes would be due.

There has been considerable debate about the 2008 changes and the 2009 session is expected to work on repairs for the program.

Bakke said that if marked forms are not returned, land owners will automatically be out of the program and unable to make changes. With the checking of one box or the other and the return of the form the land owner's options are still open and the box checked is non-binding.

All Hazard Mitigation Plan

Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske presented a resolution to adopt the Fillmore County All Hazard Mitigation Plan which has been approved by FEMA. Teske noted that four cities including Chatfield, Rushford, Spring Valley and Canton have already adopted the plan.

She explained that cities in the county will all need to adopt the plan if they wish to be covered with the plan. A city could make their own plan at great expense to the city. Townships will be covered by the plan when the county adopts it. However, townships are encouraged to also adopt the plan to demonstrate their participation.

The plan is required to be updated every five years by FEMA. The board formally adopted the plan. With the adoption of the plan, the county and townships and participating cities are eligible for FEMA funding.

• The board approved a $400 stipend for the Fillmore County CERT coordinator to help with expenses to attend a CERT conference in Minneapolis. Teske said that 35 to 40 people are participating in the CERT training. The CERT trained citizens are to be an added resource for cities to help their emergency team when needed.

Wetland Application

Donna Rasmussen asked for and received approval for a Wetland Preservation Area (WPA) application submitted by Margaret Lyngholm. The 9.4 acre wetland area is located in Carrolton Township, sections 33 and 34. Rasmussen explained that 2.4 acres are the actual wetland area, the remaining 7 acres will be a buffer.

The wetland is Decorah Shale. The buffer area has restrictions including no buildings. There is a 16 foot buffer area around the wetland. The application is for an almost permanent restriction. There is an eight year process for an owner to remove the restriction or if state funding ended, there would be immediate termination.

The WPA is exempt from property taxes. However, the county is reimbursed by the state for the county's lost revenue.

Other Business

• Commissioner Marc Prestby announced that Debris Grant money that is remaining in March 2009 will be made available for a second round. Originally, there was a $6,000 cap on funds which may be raised to $9,000 for the second round. Prestby suggested that if this is approved, flood damaged home owners that had expenses exceeding $6,000 could reapply after March 2, 2009, to qualify for additional reimbursement.

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