Meeting last Wednesday night, the commissioners of the Yellow Medicine County board voted to approve a recommended 6.52% increase in the 2016 tax levy. This percentage is a small step downward from a previously suggested 6.55% increase that was proposed in September.

Meeting last Wednesday night, the commissioners of the Yellow Medicine County board voted to approve a recommended 6.52% increase in the 2016  tax levy. This percentage is a small step downward from a previously suggested 6.55% increase that was proposed in September.

The levy, which was approved unanimously by the commissioners, is in conjunction with a $18,818,733 total revenue budget with $18,596,196 of projected expenses. However, the board decided to table the decision to put the final stamp of approval on the 2016 budget itself.

In line with the levy and budget discussions, YMC Administrator Peg Heglund mentioned a state funding source titled County Program Aid that could make the potential to make an impact on county funding and taxes. According to Heglund, counties in Minnesota have been receiving virtually no program aid.  

What had happened to cause this lack of aid, was caused during a period of high property agricultural land values in previous years. The decision was made at the state level that because the increased land values, the counties could tax the properties and would not need to receive Program Aid.. However, with a recent downswing in land values, property tax dollars ended up in short supply, making the need for Program aid necessary.

Heglund explained that, “Now we're going back to the legislature to say that's a crazy way of figuring that out, that's really not true. We need to come up with a more fair way of distributing aid. “

The plan is to have an association of counties to go to the state legislature  in the upcoming legislative session and to present a proposal for a County Program Aid amount of $40 million dollars and then for a base amount to be established for every county.

 “If the proposal goes through we could be getting like $350,000 in state aid that would offset the property taxes, and I’m saying that tonight in case any of you are political at all and know your legislatures, state people, please, put the word in, because that could make a big, big difference what we do at the county level,” explained Heglund.

In other news
•Requests from multiple taxpayers to remove late fees that accrued due to issues with a late postmark date on mailed payments were considered by the commissioners. The board denied removal of any of the fees with the intent to not set a new precedent with fee removals.

•Before approving the levy, the County Board hosted a ‘Truth in Taxation’ hearing, which is a public hearing where county residents and landowners are able to come forth and voice their concerns and questions about the proposed levy and its impact.  Multiple residents showed up to voice their concerns about property assessment related issues, but no questions were voiced directly regarding the levy itself.  County Assessor Connie Erickson- took time to answer the assessment related questions during the meeting for the attendees.