Report shows Brown County really pays its taxes

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Brown County Sheriff Jason Seidl, left, describes updated aspects of the Brown County Court Administration Office during an office tour at the Brown County Courthouse Tuesday. From left behind Seidl are Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson and Brown County Commissioners Tony Berg, Dave Borchert and Scott Windschitl. A $53,146 State of Minnesota grant enabled the purchase of bullet-resistant security glass, six new stand-up and sit-down work stations and office space remodeling that enabled court staff to move into one expanded office instead of working in two offices.

NEW ULM — Brown County Auditor/Treasurer Jean Prochniak was smiling as she talked to commissioners about the 2018 delinquent tax report Tuesday.

The report illustrating tax collections through Dec. 31, 2018, showed an unpaid tax percentage of just 0.4328. On top of that, Eden and Prairieville Township taxes were 100 percent collected before the end of 2018.

“It’s one of the lowest delinquent tax percentages since I’ve been working for Brown County,” Prochniak said.

“This is a reflection on the taxpayers’ commitment to making timely payments, staff efforts in providing notices to late payers and opening up a multitude of payment options for our taxpayers,” Prochniak wrote in her report, unanimously approved on a motion by Commissioner Dean Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg.

Commissioners also unanimously approved:

• Electing Commissioner Dave Borchert 2019 board chairman and Berg vice chairman. In addition, they adopted Robert’s Rules of Order with three provisions and reviewed board operating rules and guidelines.

• Findings of Fact for a repair petition filed by the Eloise Finstad Trust for removal of Bridge 22 on Judicial Ditch 10 B&BE, on a motion by Commissioner Scott Windschitl, seconded by Berg.

At a Dec. 17 public hearing, the Joint Drainage Authority ordered the drafting findings ordering $13,500 in compensation to be paid to the petitioner upon closed on the 13.5 acres north of the county ditch.

Landowners waive the right to repair or reconstruct a future bridge. The Drainage Authority will contract for bridge removal, all costs to be paid by the JD 10 B&BE fund.

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens estimated Bridge 22 replacement costs at more than $300,000 and repair costs of about $120,000. All landowners directly benefitting from the bridge provided written consent for permanent bridge removal.

The Drainage Authority found that Bridge 22 replacement or repair is more costly than compensating landowners for permanent bridge removal. In addition, they determined that landowners would be compensated $13,500 in lieu of replacement or repair.

• Findings of Fact for the Redetermination of Benefits (ROB) on County Ditch 45, motion by Berg, seconded by Simonsen. Benefits being applied to watershed parcels for future assessments will be $478,994. Total easement damages being paid are $17,581.

If no appeals are filed, checks would be mailed to landowners in early February 2019. An $18,000 assessment will be imposed on the watershed parcels. Billings will be prepared and sent along with payments for damages. Normal payment terms will be applied to the assessments.

• Findings of Fact for ROB on County Ditch 60, motion by Simonsen, seconded by Windschitl. Benefits being applied to watershed parcels for future assessments are $9,362,498. Total easement damages to be paid are $256,449. A $317,000 assessment will be imposed on watershed parcels. Billings will be prepared and set along with damage payments in February 2019, if there are no proceeding appeals filed.

• Set the Brown County Board of Review date with Assessor Anne Grunert for 7 p.m., Monday, June 17, motion by Windschitl, seconded by Berg. If needed, a continuation meeting begins at 1 p.m., Tuesday, June 25.

• A $167,969 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant Agreement with a $43,167 matching amount, ($33,058.50 from Brown County and $10,108.50 from the Brown County Historical Society) for the Brown County Museum slate roof replacement project. The project includes masonry, terracotta and window restoration in the museum west attic.

• A $12,500 Families First Collaborative grant appropriating $10,250 to support the 2019 Brown County Teen Court program, motion by Berg, seconded by Simonsen.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at