The county has participated in the state program, the Council on Local Results and Innovation, since its inception by the Minnesota legislature in 2010. At the board’s June 14 meeting, County Administrator Bobbie Hillery reviewed the 2021 results.
The intention of the program is to outline at least 10 goals for the coming year and to strive to provide quality services to its citizens. The state offers 14 cents per capita reimbursement for participation and allows a participating county to be exempt from levy limits for taxes, if levy limits are in effect.
The information gained from the performance measures can be used for future planning, budgeting, and management to improve outcomes in a cost-effective manner. The program helps the county share information with its citizens, informing them as to what county government is doing and how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
The following are results of the 13, 2021 performance measures: Reduce accidents on roads from prior year, two fatalities and 45 injuries (14 less injuries and the same fatalities as prior year); Maintain pavement condition index rating of 72 (not reached with a rating of 70, 73 in 2020); Tobacco use to national benchmark of 17% (not reached at 20%); Cost effective child support program (the county collected $6.12 for every dollar spent on the program, state average is $3.02); Percentage of low birth weights (at 5%, lower than both state and national averages); Median ratio between 90% and 105% for three types of assessment rates (met all), 10-day turn around for document recording (met); 100% post-election results (met); Increase by 5% state and federal dollars brought in for veterans (decreased by 1%); Maintain 85% of veterans receiving services/benefits (met); 7,200 visits per 1,000 residents for annual library visits (an increase from 2020 for visits to library and to library website, but only 3,421 actual visits to libraries per 1,000 residents); Keep debt service levy under 11% (debt service levy for 2021 at 2.32%); and 40% recycling rate of municipal solid waste (30.99% in 2021, up from 26% in 2020).
The board voted to again participate in the program for 2023. A resolution for 13 performance goals for 2023 was approved with some changes including: Maintain Pavement Quality Index (PQI) rating of 2.8 instead of using Pavement Condition Index rating of 72; Collect $7 for every dollar spent on the child support program; The goal for library visits will be reduced to 5,000 per 1,000 residents; Keep debt service under 10%; Set the goal for a 35% recycling rate.
Abatement application appeal
Cynthia Novak, with support from her realtor, appealed the county assessor’s decision to deny her application for property tax abatement on a Preston property. She appealed to lower 2022 tax liabilities that were established from the valuation of the property on January 2, 2021. Novak did not own the property in 2021 and the previous owner did not request an appraisal of the property by the assessor’s office.
Novak purchased the property January 18, 2022. She called it a distressed property, not occupied for about three years.
The property has since been assessed for about $50,000 less than the valuation established in 2021. Novak explained she was trying to improve the property to make it livable and argued it currently is not worth the $69,609 it was most recently assessed at.
Commissioner Randy Dahl told her she doesn’t have standing to ask for an abatement for the previous year’s taxes. The appraiser, Justin Kraling, explained how he had arrived at the valuation of $69,609. The Local Board of Appeal in Preston had approved the reduction in valuation now at $69,609.
Commissioner Duane Bakke moved to deny the abatement as there is no basis for the abatement requested. The abatement appeal was denied.
McCaslin offered to discuss her appeal of the current valuation and she or a representative could appeal the valuation at this evening’s Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting.
Other business in brief
• An agreement with Mitchell Hamline College of Law for Jessica Bergsgaard to complete her internship with the county attorney’s office was approved. County Attorney Brett Corson noted Bergsgaard is currently an employee of Fillmore County, working in the child support division.
• Approval was given to provide a letter of support for the City of Rushford Village for a Small Town Grant through the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation to expand the community center parking lot. The community center also serves as a polling place.
• Hillery reviewed the 2023 budgeting process schedule. Truth in Taxation hearing will be held on December 13.
• It was noted the IRS mileage rate for the remainder of 2022 (starting on July 1) for business has been raised to 62.5 cents per mile from 58.5 cents per mile.
• An option for Engineering Supervisor Darrell Schmidt, instead of County Engineer Ron Gregg, along with Josh Lensing, engineer in training, was authorized for out of state travel to attend a Federal Highway Administration Program from June 27-29 in Sylva, N.C. A scholarship program will cover lodging, meals, and flight expenses.
• A notification letter from the Minnesota DNR, Division of Fish & Wildlife, was reviewed. Larry and Gloria Flicek intend to sell a trout stream angling access easement on Wisel Creek containing 2.5 acres of land in sections 5 and 6 of Newburg Township. It will become part of a state aquatic management area.