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Commissioners OK 2.79% levy hike

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners unanimously approved the proposed 2021 property tax levy for certification at $14,141,462 Tuesday.

Action on the 2.79% levy increase came on a motion by Commissioner Scott Windschitl, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg. Figures are based on a $41,868,265 draft 2021 county budget.

The levy hike compares to a 3.75% boost in 2020, 2.25% in 2019, 3.25% in 2017 and 2018 and 3.5% in 2016.

The final budget and levy will be adopted by the board on Tuesday, Dec. 15. That levy may be equal to or lower, but not higher, than the 2021 proposed levy approved by the board Sept. 15.

A resolution setting the 2021 proposed budget and levy public hearing in the 3rd floor district courtroom for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 came on a motion by Commissioner Dean Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Jeff Veerkamp. The Dec. 1 county board meeting begins at 4:30 p.m.

Commissioners also:

• Convened a public hearing at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 to establish 2021 ditch assessments and interest rates to be applied after Jan. 1, 2021, motion by Simonsen, seconded by Berg. The current interest rate is 4%.

Billings will be sent to all affected landowners allowing for a prepayment option. Unpaid assessments would be applied to 2021 taxes unless landowners request a 3-year lien available on assessments greater than $1,000.

• Appointed Mark Roiger, P.E. to prepare a preliminary survey and file a board report for a County Ditch 44 improvement petition, motion by Berg, seconded by Commissioner Dave Borchert.

• Requested jail food service bids at 10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 5, in the courthouse commissioners room, motion by Berg, seconded by Windschitl. Jail Administrator Steve Appel said A’viands food service contract expires Sept. 25, 2020 and it has increased meal costs 22%, from $1.228 to $1.50 a meal for up to 20 inmates and 55% for 21 to 56 inmates.

• Approved Sept. 9 Planning Commission recommendations including a conditional use permit (CUP) application by Daniel Lendt, Section 22, Prairieville Township, to renew an existing permit to allow 950 animal units (AU) in a nursery-to-finish swine operation, motion by Berg, seconded by Simonsen.

• Approved a CUP filed by John Hillesheim, Section 22, Home Township, to renew an existing CUP to allow up to 936 AU (3,120-head) in a hog wean-to-finish operation, motion by Simonsen, seconded by Berg.

• Approved a CUP filed by Keith Olson, Mathiowetz Construction, Section 4, Stately Township, to renew a CUP for an existing gravel mining operation to include extraction, screening and crushing.

• Approved a CUP filed by Curtis Thram, Section 7, Stately Township, to renew an existing CUP and allow an increase from 693 AU of feeder cattle to a 840 AU beef cattle operation, motion by Veerkamp, seconded by Berg.

• Approved a CUP filed by Chad Thram, Section 13, Stately Township, to renew an existing CUP to allow 900 AU beef cattle, motion by Veerkamp, seconded by Berg.

• Approved final plat applications by Lee Bowman, Section 13, Bashaw Township; Scott Haala, Section 32, Home Township; Nick Stadick, Section 7, Cottonwood Township.

• Approved preliminary plat applications by Pamela Steinle, Section 35, Albin Township; and Clarice Platz, Section 24, Bashaw Township.

• Heard a COVID-19 report from Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz. She said Brown County case numbers are more stable than some other counties.

“We’re encouraging long-term care facilities to do testing,” Moritz said. “It’s also important to remember that what we do in our communities affects our schools, which my department is spending a great deal of time with.”

Moritz said she’s thankful that many county organizations are calling office for COVID-19 guidance.

• Tabled hiring an additional deputy, approved in the 2020 budget, until learning more about the situation from Brown County Sheriff Jason Seidl.

• Considered Brown County COVID-19 business relief grant awards of $308,300 as recommended by Brown County Economic Development partners, motion by Windschitl, seconded by Berg.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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