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County EDA recommends HRA levy initiative


Fri, Jul 13th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Chris Gastner of the Fillmore County Economic Development Authority (EDA), advised the county board at their July 10 meeting that the EDA recommends that Fillmore County go ahead with a request from the Bluff County Housing and Rehabilitation Authority (HRA) for a levy initiative for housing rehabilitation.

The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund would match the levy dollar for dollar. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud asked if it would be a one-time levy request. Gastner confirmed that it would be. Houston County is considering a similar request. Dollars from each county would be used in the county in which they were raised.

Wayne Stenberg, Bluff Country HRA said the funds would provide low interest loans to fix up homes. Gastner said that it should create a revolving loan fund. He noted that Fillmore County has a relatively older housing stock. Stenberg suggested that 30 homeowners could be aided in the beginning. The availability of the funds would be marketed by use of their web site, postings in businesses, and radio broadcasts.

Commissioner Randy Dahl liked the program since it could be targeted at the elderly. It is expected that a property owner with a home worth about $150,000 would pay an additional $4 on his property taxes.

Senator Sharon Ropes

Sharon Ropes dropped in to offer to visit each of the commissioner districts with its commissioner. She said that she can best be an advocate at the capital with a fuller understanding of issues back home. Ropes expressed her disappointment with the governor's vetos.

Ropes said that they had in her opinion put together a great transportation package that would have brought new money to the counties and townships. She said that she was shocked by the governor's unwillingness to negotiate or compromise.

Senator Ropes said that she felt that the message from home was to get work done in a bipartisan way and to avoid a special session. She said that bills need to be moderate and have support from the other party to go forward. She felt the governor failed to hear the voter message to "work together," having elected a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature.

Randy Dahl stated that with the federal government failing to act on health care the issue is falling to the states. Ropes emphasized a need to get health care costs under control. She said that Minnesota is headed toward universal health care. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud brought up the lack of funds for veterans from both the state and federal governments leaving the burden on the county. Ropes said that people don't like to admit that departments are under funded. She said that veteran needs are increasing especially with the long-term care needs of soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury. Amunrud suggested that it could be a "win, win" for communities if veterans requiring nursing home care could be moved to local nursing homes. He suggested that it would boost the local economies and the local nursing homes with the revenue stream that would follow the veteran. Ropes noted that forty nursing homes in the state are in need of funds to keep operating. She said that there is a movement toward "aging in place" allowing seniors to stay at home or in assisted living. Seniors are happier and care is less expensive than in nursing homes.

Ropes insisted that the tax bill the governor vetoed would have provided needed funding. The tax increase would have affected only the top 3% of tax payers. She said that the proposed tax increase and the stipulation that inflation rates be figured in caused the governor to veto the bill. Commissioner Duane Bakke said that he blamed both sides for the failure to put the bill into law and that the citizens are the losers. He admitted that he may not have agreed with the governor, but that the governor made it clear where he drew the line. He said that the Democrats in the legislature failed to adjust.

Dahl asked about the readiness of the National Guard, if they have the inventory of equipment and the ability to meet the needs in a major disaster. Ropes agreed that in the event of a natural disaster, terrorism attack, or epidemic there is a question whether we are prepared to keep citizens safe.

Auditor/Treasurer

Shirl Boelter requested and received approval for a laser printer to print checks. The total cost for the equipment is $3576.

Three parcels available for forfeiture were discussed. Boelter noted that the parcels could be sold at public auction or by private sale. She said that it costs the county $1200 to hold an auction. Boelter suggested that they be offered to adjacent landowners. The parcels are in Wykoff, Preston and Spring Valley.

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