YM Co. Board again votes no on wheelage tax implementation

Follow us on Twitter at @AdvocateTribune


Due to flooding issues in the bottom floor of the present Yellow Medicine County Courthouse, YMC  commissioners, in a 3-2 vote Tuesday, elected to move forward with an agreement with the local Minnesota West Community an Technical College to contract for space to temporarily house the Veteran's Service Office for a period of five months at a rate of $530 per month.
Mold and asbestos findings in the base floor of the courthouse have resulted in closure of Veterans Services offices–– where the majority of the damage was done by recent heavy rains––and will presently only be minimally rehabilitated by the county.
In addition to working in the Minnesota West space, County Administrator Peg Heglund said that Veterans Service Officer Michelle Gatz has also been spearheading the development of a program alongside local organization, Friends of the Minnesota West Campus, that would bring veterans in for post-secondary training and housing at the college.
Heglund also said that the school has been supportive of the proposed venture the individual entities are cooperatively working to develop a grant request on its behalf.
Commissioners Gary Johnson and Louis Sherlin voted in opposition to the move, stating preference that the Veterans Service Offices be moved into existing space within the courthouse.
“If it was rent free I would be willing to do it. If it's not, I'm not spending $500 a month,” said Johnson.
Commissioners Ron Antony, John Berends and Greg Renneke, meanwhile, voted in favor of the project in part because it was perceived that such action would show support for the aforementioned proposal.  
“I think we should try it for five months and see where it goes,” said commissioner Renneke.
According to Heglund, county personnel also preferred the move due to space constraints.  She said that mold would be cut out of the Veterans Service Office, but the cost of rehabbing the asbestos and recarpeting the area was quoted in excess of $10,000. She also said she did not know yet if such repairs would be covered by the county’s insurance provider.  

In other news:
• In a 4-1 vote, in which commissioner Ron Antony was the lone dissenter, board members voted, for the second year in a row, not to institute a wheelage tax.
Commissioner Antony believed that the wheelage tax, which allows counties to tax individual vehicles at the rate of $10 per vehicle, would help reduce the tax burden on agricultural properties (which now may pay just over 90 percent of the county tax base), while the rest of the board believed the impact would  do little to reduce the ag burden, and just create confusion.
• At the recommendation Duane Hansel of Bolton and Menk, commissioners accepted a $224,152.05 contract by low bidder Brey Tiling and Excavation, of Marshall, to construct County Ditch 1B just Northwest of Echo. Five bids, as high as $386,472.50 were received for the tiling project, which received a low bid 19 percent below engineering estimates of $277,000.
• Following the recommendation of YMC Sheriff Bill Flaten, commissioners approved a contract for medical examiner services with Midwest Medical Examiner's Office out of Ramsey.
The agreement gives the county access to coroner services with expertise beyond than that presently provided by Dr. Ken Carter who is expected to retire in the near term.
Costs for services are expected to be on par with those previously received at $125 per month, plus the additional case-by-case postmortem examination expenses that come with accidents, suicides and homicides.
In addition, the Midwest Medical Examiners Office will provide training to local law enforcement for appropriate handling of death scenes.
• At the recommendation the YMC Planning Commission, commissioners approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) request by Clarkfield resident Adam Haroldson to construct a 62' x 280' hog barn to house 1,000 anti-biotic free, finishing hogs (equivalent to 300 animal units) in Section 8 of Swede Prairie Township located approximately six miles south of Clarkfield.
County ordinance requires a CUP for the expansion of an existing feedlot over 500 animal units as well as that located within one-half mile of an existing building site. Haroldson constructed a 300 animal unit hog facility in May of 2012, requiring the need for the permit.
The existing farm site located within one half-mile belongs to his father, and there were no complaints in regard to the request.
• Commissioners also approved a CUP request by Lance and Keith Citrowske of Boyd to operate a used vehicle dealership in a Rural Preservation Management District. The site is located in Section of Omro Township roughly 13 miles south east of Clarkfield.
Business operations within such a district require a CUP. Conditions on the permit required the owner to be tolerant of agricultural related activities in the area and that all waste generated by the auto dealership be disposed of following State of Minnesota Rules.
• Commissioners plan to select an architect for the proposed new courthouse project at their next meeting on Wednesday, August 13. The meeting has been moved from its usual Tuesday meeting date to accommodate the August, 12 primary elections.