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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Watonwan County Board denies request for tax abatement

  • The Watonwan County Board met Tuesday, Oct. 16. Commissioner Scott Sanders was not present at the meeting, but did phone in for the public hearing regarding the tax abatement proposal. Minutes were approved as written and amendments were made to add four additional topics to the discussion.
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  • The Watonwan County Board met Tuesday, Oct. 16. Commissioner Scott Sanders was not present at the meeting, but did phone in for the public hearing regarding the tax abatement proposal. Minutes were approved as written and amendments were made to add four additional topics to the discussion.
    A request for the Watonwan County Board to use tax abatement to help fund a portion of the development costs of six ground-level apartment buildings was denied by a vote of 3-2 after a long discussion at the public hearing.
    Concerns were raised by multiple commissioners of the Watonwan County Board.
    “Why do you need to supplement the rent for upper level people to want to rent?” Asked commissioner John Baerg, adding “we’re providing welfare for the wealthy, and that’s not what I want to do.”
    The applicants defended the request by highlighting the necessity of apartments for senior living. They repeated on multiple occasions that if housing is not made available at $850-$895per  month, potential buyers will move on to larger cities where housing is more readily available and commodities are more accessible.
    “We have 12-15 people on our list looking. If there is nothing here, they will go someplace else,” said St. James Mayor Gary Sturm.
    “We do tax abatement that is going to bring something to the county - businesses that bring people to the community,” said Baerg. “I want to save tax abatement for things like that. Not just helping a handful of people - helping an entire county.”
    Marge Smith, manager of TmT Transportation Systems in St. James requested that the Watonwan County Board allow her to put in a request for local organizations to clean the buses and vans in exchange for a $100 donation. The Commissioners agreed that organizations may be used every other week and payed $100 for each session.
    Public Works Director Roger Risser presented the 2012-2013 bids for road de-icing salt in Watonwan County.
    Mills Distributing made their bid for $68.40, based on diesel fuel $4.099/gallon or less.
    Runge Trucking made their bid for $77.20, based on diesel fuel $4.099/gallon or less.
    The commissioners accepted the bid from Mills Distributing.
    The bridge budget was also looked at by the commissioners. Risser reported that $1.96 million is left in the budget with some contracts left to pay.
    Motions were carried to approve the contracts of Mathiowetz Construction Co. Inc. for their work replacing a culvert in St. James ($115,488.29) and the CSAH 8 SHLD widening ($1,049,015.35) as well as the contract of Midwest Contracting, LLC, for their work on the County Road 107 box culvert replacement ($177,019.04).
    Emergency Management Director Julie Peterson along with a representative of Region 9 presented a contract to the Watonwan County Board. Commissioners voted unanimously to allow the Region Nine Development Commission to provide planning services which result in an update of the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.
    Page 2 of 2 - The plan is required in order for Watonwan County to receive FEMA funds and will add no additional expenses to the county budget. Instead, an application will be submitted to the state that will allow for a grant to pay Region Nine for their contribution to the project.
    County Recorder Joy Sing introduced a plan to record all public record information online and it was approved unanimously by the commissioners.
    “People are going to get the information and the one chore we have is getting revenue for that information,” said Sing.
    Watonwan County will receive $2.25 for every outside search, and the cost to search a public record will be $5.95 total for an outside user.
    Commissioners also approved the bid by Feder Mechanical for the LEC HVAC upgrades in the sheriff’s office, police office, hallway and basement of the Watonwan County Courthouse.
    Upgrades will cost about $47,140 after a $1,600 centerpoint rebate.
    All training requests were approved. A discussion led by Commissioner Mark Rentz questioned whether a $300 mark should be held per employee for training requests. Rentz is hoping to set protocol for the future. The idea was tabled for December, when the County Board will look at the final budget for the year.

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