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Public Hearing set for Hilltop Estates

Fri, Feb 8th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Ron Ziegler representing the City of Chatfield Economic Development Authority asked the county board at their February 5 meeting to consider scheduling a Public Hearing for the approval of a Tax Abatement to construct public improvements to service the proposed Hilltop Estates in Chatfield. Ziegler, accompanied by Chatfield's mayor Curt Sorenson, explained that they weren't seeking approval for the tax abatement, but an approval to go ahead with a public hearing.

Ziegler explained that there are two distinct projects including the new school and the Hilltop Estate Subdivision. Ziegler added that the county gets a vote on the development project because of the proposed tax abatement. He went on to describe the extra-ordinary costs related to infrastructure including the road, sewer and water due to the topography. The location is 265 feet higher than Main Street. The City of Chatfield will be the applicant for the abatement.

The development of Hilltop Estates is expected to build about ten new homes, worth about $250,000 each, per year. Ziegler claims that there will be little or no risk to the county. The tax abatement will help finance the roads and sewer and water for the development. The county will not have to provide up front dollars. The city of Chatfield will be responsible for snow plowing and other maintenance. The tax abatement would be limited to fifteen years.

"The total cumulative amount of the tax abatements to be collected by Fillmore County, which includes interest expense, shall not exceed $1,100,000 collected over a period of fifteen years," Ziegler said.

Mayor Sorenson insisted that it will be a "win, win" for the county. The city will stand the risk. He made it clear that the school will still be built even without the abatement. Sorenson said that this is an opportunity to do it right the first time and he is asking for the county's support. He added that he was extremely confident that this will happen and that this is an opportunity to produce future tax revenue for the county.

Commissioner Duane Bakke asked if Chatfield owns the land since they are the applicant. Micheal Bubany of David Drown and Associates responded that it is not necessary that the applicant owns the land. Mayor Sorenson added that the tax abatement is for infrastructure which will be owned by the city. Bubany said that this infrastructure makes the housing development possible. He went on to explain that the owners of the new homes will pay taxes as usual on their house and land, only a portion will go to the county and the rest will go to the city of Chatfield. Mayor Sorenson added that the tax abatement will be just on the increased revenue (or added value of the new home) and not on the current value of the bare land.

The Public Hearing for the county will be March 25 at 10:00 a.m. in the courthouse board room. The City of Chatfield's Public Hearing is March 10.

Bluff Country HRA

Michael Bubany explained that the levy approved by both Fillmore and Houston Counties for the Bluff Country HRA of $50,000 for each county is required by the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) to be levied directly to them and not through each county. Bubany stressed that it will not effect the total tax levy for the tax payer. There will be a separate line item on a property owner's tax statement for a special levy. The total special levy for a property owner of a home valued at $150,000 will be about $4. The funds will be used for rehabilitation loans for low income families. The board approved the house keeping changes needed to satisfy the GMHF.

Social Services

Thomas Boyd, Director of Social Services, asked for and received approval for an increase from $25 to $35 per day for foster care payments for emergency care, usually for 3 to 4 days.

Boyd listed some statistics for people on welfare and emphasized that these people get enough to barely get by. Low income families with children that receive payments through Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) receive about $582 per family and are usually on the program for about two years. The county has about 65 families on this program. There were about 145 families on the MFIA program in the early 1990s. In the Diversionary Work Program designed as short term and work focused, families average about $389 per month. These programs are half federal and half state supported.

The Food Support program pays out an average of $163 per household. General Assistance (GA) for adults without children supplies on average $203 per month and the county has an average of 22 recipients benefiting from this program. The county averages 91 people on Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) with the $71 being the average amount received. This aid is to supplement SSI. There are 67 people in Group Residential Housing (GRH) receiving an average of $270 per month.

There are about 638 cases per month for child support enforcement services in an effort to limit public assistance program usage.

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