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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Yellow Medicine County overall valuation up $800 million

  • The total estimated market value of Yellow Medicine County rose from $2.4 billion in 2012 to $3.2 billion in 2013, with the impressive $800 million overall market value jump stemming by and large from ag-related construction and property value increases.
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  • The total estimated market value of Yellow Medicine County rose from $2.4 billion in 2012 to $3.2 billion in 2013, with the impressive $800 million overall market value jump stemming by and large from ag-related construction and property value increases.
    YMC Assessor Connie Erickson was on hand during Tuesday's county board meeting to detail the 2013 overall county assessment, which is based on property sales that occurred between October 2011 and September 2012.
    According to Erickson, the sum total of the county's ag property values, which also includes ag structures, increased by 33 percent for 2013 after having increased by 20 percent in 2012 and nine percent in 2011.
    Residential properties saw a much smaller valuation increase of 2.68 percent that nevertheless surpassed gains of 1.89 percent the year prior. Commercial/Industrial properties saw no change in value, just as they had the preceding year.
    The sizable, lop-sided increase to the total value of agricultural properties has further pushed the overall tax burden onto agriculturally classified properties, which now account for 89 percent, or $2.8 billion of the county's $3.2 billion total market value. This figure is up from 87 percent in 2012, 85 percent in 2011 and 74 percent looking back a decade to 2002.
    The percentage that the $277 million total residential property values account for the county's overall market wealth in turn was reduced to 11 percent in 2012 to 8.7 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the commercial/industrial properties valuation, comprising a total $55 million, dropped from two percent to 1.73 percent.
    Overall construction in the county was down by $4.2 million to $11.5 million after a record breaking year in 2012 that saw $15.7 million of new construction. Erickson said that the record year was driven by major projects such as the Prairie Grain Partners expansion, and that the $11.5 million was still very high from a historical perspective.
    "In general, we usually maintain a construction of eight to nine million dollars, so we're still really aggressive," she noted.
    Major conservation valuation changes
    In related news, Erickson also mentioned changes to the agricultural homestead credit, which increased from $1.29 million for 2013 to 1.5 million for 2014, as well as new legislation that will affect property owners who enlist in conservation programs.
    According to Erickson, the new legislation states that any land in a conservation easement should not be reduced in terms of its valuation except for buffer strips along rivers, streams and lakes that protect water quality.
    Prior to the legislation, major conservation reserve programs such as Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife land and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) were reduced in valuation according to easement restrictions, such as those that prohibit crop plantings.
    Thus, the change means that such lands may be valued equal to their productive ag-land counterparts. Of the group CREP lands would be by far the most drastically affected, potentially seeing taxable values rise from $1,400 per acre to as much as $4,000 to $7,500 per acre. RIM and Fish Wildlife would see more modest hikes, something around a jump from $1,000 per acre to $1,200.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We have six to seven thousand acres in CREP," said Erickson. "The owners will pay more taxes on land they usually can only use for hunting ... There is no recourse for taxpayers."
    In other news:
    Due to increased case-load work for Yellow Medicine County Family Services children's unit, commissioners approved the hire of a new social worker.
    According to child services director Mary Potter, there were 1,789 hours of overtime, totalling $51,952 in expenses to the county, between January 1, 2012 to May 17, 2013. The new employee would be paid around $20 per hour, representing an annual salary somewhere in the range of $45,000 to $48,000.
    •Commissioners approved the hire of Ryan Meehan to serve as Parks Director/Equipment Operator. The position will involve time split between the parks and the county highway department. It is full time at a rate of $13.88 per hour.
    •A hearing on a tax abatement for the Canby Subway has been set for July 9 at 10:30 p.m.
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