County board approves preliminary 4% levy increase

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a preliminary 4% increase in the county’s tax levy for 2023. 

The preliminary levy, which has to be approved each year in September, can be lowered in December when the budget is finalized, but it cannot be raised.

The total levy is just shy of $27 million. 

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The commissioners also approved the preliminary budget with expenditures at $68.84 million, an increase of about 6% from the 2022 budget, Finance Director Pat Paquin said.

The board in December will vote on the final budget and levy. 

In other action, the board:

• The board approved a $100,000 donation to the All Together Albert Lea Inclusive Playground project.

The playground, which is slated to be built at Edgewater Park across from the new pavilion, will be a place for people of all ages and abilities to come together and play.

The cost of the project is $1.25 million and is slated to be constructed in fall 2023. The city of Albert Lea has also contributed $350,000 to the project.  

First District Commissioner Brad Edwin thanked the committee that is fundraising for the playground.

“I think it is going to be something great to our community,” Edwin said.

The project is being paid for with excess fund balance that had previously been committed to administration. 

The board voted to de-commit those funds and use them for the playground.

• Approved a grant contract amendment with the Minnesota Department of Health for the Statewide Health Improvement Project for funding from Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, 2023. 

Public Health Director Sue Yost said the county has received the funding for several years and will again receive almost $152,000. The funding goes toward the salary for the coordinator, as well as funding wellness activities and supplies in the community, schools and businesses related to active living and healthy eating. 

Some of the projects she referenced included breastfeeding rooms at some business, furniture to allow people to work in standing positions and bikes for programs, among others.

• Approved the final payment to Freeborn County Coop Oil of Albert Lea for about $5,500 for furnishing and applying magnesium chloride. 

• Approved an agreement with ITC Midwest to move power poles out of the right-of-way. The company and the county will split the cost. 

• Approved a redetermination of benefits and improvements to County Ditch No. J21. The project has been in the works for several years. 

• Heard an update from an official with the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the state’s 10-year Capital Highway Investment Plan for 2023-2031 in southeast Minnesota. 

• Approved resignations of Anthony Rodriguez, patrol deputy, and Ray Folven, detention deputy. The board also voted to fill both positions. 

• Voted to fill a vacant children’s mental health case manager position due to a promotion.