State OKs tax relief due to storms

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A request for property tax relief made by Freeborn County has been approved by the state in response to damages incurred from the June 17 tornado outbreak.

Freeborn County Assessor Ryan Rasmusson made the announcement Tuesday at the meeting of the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners.

He said this approval means that any local-option abatement that would be approved for 2010 taxes would be reimbursed by the state, adjusting taxes for the current year.

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“Taxes will be adjusted, and in most cases, refunds applied,” said Rasmusson.

To qualify for the abatement, Rasmusson said applications were sent out to homeowners and ag sites in Freeborn County who met specific qualifications, based on the county’s assessments. One qualification was that at least 50 percent of the owner’s dwelling had to be destroyed.

Rasmusson said based on the county’s assessments, 70 applications were sent out to county homeowners. As of Tuesday, he said all but 12 of those applications had been returned to his office. The board recommended follow-up be completed with these 12 pending applicants.

Rasmusson also said that a homestead disaster credit will be in affect and adjusted for 2011 taxes. He said this credit will be open to anyone who meets a separate set of qualifications, also relating to disaster from June’s storms.

“Any homestead dwelling and garage that had damage will receive a credit,” said Rasmusson. “The main thing is that either of those programs are reimbursed to local government by the state of Minnesota.”

Rasmusson encourages people who received damage in the June 17 storms and have questions about the abatement or the tax credit to call the Assessor’s Office at 377-5176.

Special hazardous waste collection scheduled

Commissioners also wanted to remind county residents that a special household hazardous waste collection time has been scheduled in response to the Sept. 22 flooding.

Freeborn County Environmental Services have scheduled the collection for Oct. 13 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Freeborn. The collection site will be located in the lot east of the fire hall.

According to Colin Wittmer, household hazardous waste technician for the county’s Environmental Services Department, this collection is like the others held from April through September. He said this collection was added due to the need after the floods.

Wittmer said the same kinds of items will be collected as at the other sites this summer, including old paints, aerosol cans, pesticides, fluorescent lights from households and mercury thermometers.

Occupancy to increase at county jail

Freeborn County Sheriff Mark Harig reported that the Sheriff’s Office has been given tentative approval to raise occupancy levels in the county jail.

According to Harig, the Sheriff’s Office is waiting on a formal letter from Sarah Johnson, a jail inspector with the State of Minnesota Department of Corrections, to give the official word that occupancy rates can raise from a maximum of 136 to 148 prisoners.

Harig said as it stands now, whenever the Freeborn County jail gets close to 136 prisoners, his office sends local prisoners to neighboring facilities so it stays within the maximum capacity levels. He said the increase in occupancy will save the department from shipping those prisoners out.

Harig also presented a certificate of recognition to Janelle VanEngelenburg, a sentencing to service crew leader with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, in response to her help with the cleanup during the 2009 Pickerel Lake Project.

In additional business, the board:

  • Reappointed Tom Butler to the position of Turtle Creek Watershed District Board manager.
  • Approved the 2010 labor agreement with the Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Employee’s Union Local No. 320-Patrol Deputies.
  • Signed resolution on behalf of Freeborn County requesting a presidential declaration of a major disaster. The resolution will be included in the request for public assistance made by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to President Barack Obama covering several southern Minnesota counties.
  • Approved an agreement with Pictometry International Corp., allowing the company to take aerial photos from a low altitude over portions of Freeborn County in spring 2011. The photos will be used as part of a larger beacon system on the county’s website.