GRANITE?FALLS?- The Yellow Medicine County Board received some welcome news at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday when County Assessor Connie Erickson reported a large growth in market value of the agriculture classified properties in the county.
According to Erickson, between October 2010 and September 2011, agriculture classified property, which includes tillable acreage, buildings and facilities, increased more than 20 percent over the previous year. Last year's increase was only 9 percent.
The market value of residential properties in the county increased 1.9 percent, compared to no change in the previous year, Erickson said. New construction in the 2012 reporting period was valued at $15.7 million, as compared to $9.1 million the previous year.
The total tax base in the county was valued at $2.4 billion, compared to last year when the total value was assessed at $2.1 billion. Broken down, 87 percent of the tax base is classified agricultural, compared to 85 percent last year, and 12 percent residential, a drop of 1 percent from last year. Commercial and industrial remained steady at 2 percent of the tax base, according to Erickson.
A local group of 19 investors from Canby approached the board to apply for a county property tax abatement of $13,000 a year for 10 years on the 28-room motel facility that opened last July.
The city of Canby has already approved a $20,000 per year abatement for 10 years.
Dick Birk, treasurer of Canby Inn and Suites LLC, acknowledged the usual procedure is to apply for tax abatements before construction begins and apologized for the irregular nature of the proceedings.
"We're new at this," Birk said. "But my opinion is there should be automatic abatements for 10 years for any new structure."
Birk said there had been unexpected expenses building the facility and it wasn't cash flowing yet.
After some sharp criticism, the board passed the abatement unanimously.
At the request of Jolene Johnson, county water project coordinator, the board voted to participate as loan sponsor on two state programs which offer low-interest loans to seal contaminated wells and drill new ones, and to upgrade rural sewage systems.
The Agriculture Best Management Practices Loan Program can be used to finance replacement or installation of wells in situations where there is an existing or potential water pollution. The Lac qui Parle/Yellow Bank Clean Water Partnership Low Interest Loan Program offers 3.5 percent 10-year loans to upgrade sewer systems that do not conform to state standards.
The board also heard from County Finance Manager Michelle May, who while describing county financial outlays for the past year, pointed out that since the board passed the $10 bounty on coyotes, the county had paid out $1,111 for 111 coyotes turned in during the past year.
"I think each and every one of them would have been shot anyway," said County Administrator Ryan Krosch.
Krosch mentioned he has plans to go turkey hunting next week.