County board OKs proposed tax levy

Certifies levy is 3.19 percent

over 2013 levy

By Fritz Busch

Staff Writer

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners unanimously approved a 2014 proposed property tax levy for certification to the County Auditor/Treasurer Tuesday in the amount of $11,747,300.

The draft 2014 levy is a 3.19 percent increase over the 2013 certified levy, based on a draft 2014 county budget of $30,770,442, according to a Request for Board Action (RBA).

The draft 2014 county budget includes $101,697 in contingency funds that, if unspent, have the effect of replacing part of the reserves spent on special projects such as the 2010 Facility Infrastructure & Energy Efficiency Improvement Project, according to the RBA.

Other budget general contingencies (unknown cost levels) are 2014 open labor contracts, out-of-home placement costs over budgeted expenses, high-profile prosecution and investigation cases, extraordinary expenses pertaining to civil commitment proceedings, preventative and acute health care for county jail inmates, and mid-year state aid/grant reductions, according to the RBA.

The final budget and levy is set to be adopted by the County Board on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The final property tax levy approved by the County Board in December can be equal to or lower, but not higher than the 2014 proposed tax levy approved Tuesday.

“I support the budget, but if we don’t get any surprises, we could cut back some,” said Commissioner Andy Lochner. Commissioner Dennis Potter said he agreed.

Commissioners approved scheduling a public meeting on the proposed 2014 county budget and levy for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 in the District Courtroom on the courthouse third floor. They revised the start time of the Dec. 3, 2013 County Board meeting to 4:30 p.m.

Commissioners also approved:

Increasing the vaccine administration fee from $14 to $18 per vaccine. The Brown County Public Health Dept. request to raise the fee was made to increase 3rd party payer reimbursement without increasing the fee too much for those that pay out-of-pocket, according to the RBA. The new fee would be closer to the actual administration cost.

A $1,344 tile washout drainage ditch repair request for CD #52, Section 29, North Home Township, a normal maintenance repair.

Authorizing bids for a Judicial Ditch #30 R&B clean-out project during a Ditch Authority Teleconference with Redwood County commissioners.

Tax Court Updates including a $349,300 valuation reduction from $4,219,900 to $3,870,600 for Dayton Hudson Corp. (Target) 2013 Assessment for Payable 2014 taxes; and a K-Mart abatement for payable 2014 taxes at $2,300,000, a $211,000 Tax Court Settlement reduction. K-Mart requests a $149,000 2013 valuation reduction for payable 2014 taxes to match the tax court settlement.

By a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Jim Berg dissenting, a property tax abatement on Charles Hauser’s home on 184th Ave., reducing the 2013 estimated market value for taxes payable 2014 from $363,000 to $351,700. Home square footage was recalculated from 3,688 to 3,384 square feet using revised floor plans.

County Assessor Rita Treml wrote in the RBA that square footage was recalculated at 3,384, which was the best that could be done with the provided information.

In his Application for Abatement dated Aug. 28, 2013, Hauser wrote that blueprints were submitted to the County Assessor, documenting square footage at 3,688 but heated square footage should be 3,147. Hauser wrote that the County’s appraised value was greater than the bank appraisal, but that when the square footage is corrected, the (appraised) value should be corrected.

Commissioner Berg suggested tabling the item until the numbers were corrected. Commissioner Richard Seeboth said he wanted to act on the abatement and get the numbers right for the following year.

A Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) Joint Powers Agreement with $1,280 annual dues. The organization consists of Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Freeborn, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Waseca, and Watonwan County commissioners, water management staff and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supervisors and staff.

Technical Coordinator David Bucklin said with the recent constitutional amendment, many water conservation grants are available.

“Lake Hanska is a popular recreation destination here,” Bucklin said. “We want to do all we can to help make it a good spot. It would take only a grant or two to get the annual fee back. We look at large grants that pay 90 to 100 percent of costs.”

Scheduled a public hearing at 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 for a proposed amendment to the Brown County Local Water Management Plan.

The County Board meeting starts at 9 a.m., Tuesday in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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