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State legislators to brief county board on issues

BROWN COUNTY — Minnesota Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, and Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, have been asked to share their perspectives on the upcoming legislative session with Brown County Commissioners on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The discussion on the legislative session that begins Jan. 5, is scheduled to begin at about 4:45 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Law Enforcement Training Center (LEC) training room.

Priorities to be voted on by the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) on Dec. 7 and made public shortly thereafter will come from this list:

• Maintaining and protecting gains made in recent years on County Program Aid (CPA), a critical property tax relief program; and supporting contining health and human services waivers that demonstrate administrative efficiency and improve outcomes and service delivery.

• Equity in transportation infrastructure with continued comprehensive transportation funding including new revenue for roads, bridges and transit.

• Equity in broadband infrastructure in Minnesota including legislation providing additional funding for the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

• Adequate and flexible funding for public health and continued statewide response to COVID-19, including vaccine distribution, community outreach and education.

Commissioners will also:

• Convene a public hearing at 6 p.m. Dec.1 in the Brown County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) Training Room for the proposed 2021County Budget and Levy. Department heads have been asked to to present virtually to address budget questions specific to departmental staffing and programs.

The purpose of the hearing is to explain the proposed budget and tax levy for 2021 and obtain public feedback. It is not a (property) valuation hearing. Those meetings are held in spring.

Brown County’s 2021 preliminary tax levy was sent at a 2.79% increase over 2020. The total budget increase is 7.3%, from $39,036,602 to $41,868.265.

Impacts of a 2.79% levy increase on the county portion of the tax bill are a $2 annual increase on residential property valued at $75,000; $4 a year on $100,000 property, $12 on property valued at $250,000 and $22 a year on property valued at $400,000.

Comparing 2019 per capita levy rates, Brown County ranked among Minnesota’s lowest levies per capita, 73rd out of 87 counties.

Significant changes to the 2021 budget include a new LEC camera system, new LEC/courthouse (HVAC) chiller, new tools at Lake Hanska County Park, a new deputy and new countywide Microsoft office system.

• Zoom access is available by calling Brown County Administration at 507-233-6600.

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

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