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Brown County favors voting from home

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County Commissioners learned that 86% of registered Brown County voters voted in the 2020 presidential election, which was 3% more than the 2016 presidential election and well above the 80% state average.

“I was happy with the way the 2020 election went in Minnesota. I’m proud to be from Minnesota and Brown County,” said Brown County Auditor/Treasurer Jean Prochniak.

In addition, 53.73% of Brown County voters voted safely from home, said Prochniak in her 2020 Auditor-Treasurer Annual Report.

“All of our eligible precincts opted to vote by mail except Comfrey,” Prochniak reported. “Voter outreach was a priority in the 2020 election with all of the negativity regarding elections shared by the media. We worked hard on newspaper columns. Multiple NUCAT (New Ulm cable TV) presentations with the New Ulm League of Women Voters were done too.”

The A-T annual report also included:

• Brown County’s top taxpayers: Wal-Mart $343,446; Menard’s $285,260; Harvest Land Co-op $264,565; Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing $236,428; Central Region Co-op $226,934; Kraft Foods $217,312; Northern States Power $213,654; Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad $183,979; Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI) $131,860; and Inland American NU Atlas, LLC, $129,304.

Prochniak said much effort has gone into improving license bureau operations.

“I’ve heard some really good comments on the license bureau,” said Commissioner Tony Berg.

In her percent delinquent report, Prochniak said the percentage of unpaid taxes fell from .4228% in 2019 to .3637% in 2020.

“This is certainly a reflection on the taxpayers of this county and county staff who provide multiple opportunities to get taxes paid using many of the options that have been established,” wrote Prochniak in her report.

“This is truly commendable in this year of a pandemic and economic hardship for many of our property owners,” Prochniak added.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• The 2020 Holiday Projects Report prepared by Brown County Human Services that includes a review of Adopt a Family, Santa’s Closet, and the Coats for Kids projects. The value of 2020 contributions was $54,900.

In addition, it is important to recognize the volunteers and community donors who have of their time, talent and treasure to benefit the projects. Their efforts benefitted 390 households including 769 people in Brown County.

Volunteer Opal Dewanz coordinated the Adopt-A-Family program for the 18th consecutive year and donated nearly 160 hours of time. Julie Duehring aided Dewanz for the seventh year and Rita Anderson helped for the third year. Both women gave nearly 60 hours of volunteer time.

• The 2020 donations list that totals $18,524.20 including a $10,234.20 donation approved Jan. 5.

• A six-month placement agreement from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2021 with House of Lights, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Dave Borchert.

House of Lights owners Jan and Mike Carpenter plan to sell their property and retire. Their desire is for another provider to buy the property and continue 10-bed board and lodging services for adults with mental health needs for Brown County Human Services.

• Submitting a request for proposal and South Central Community-Based Initiative for a new board and lodge provider for adults with mental health needs, motion by Borchert, seconded by Jeff Veerkamp.

• Setting a public hearing for Feb. 23, for a financing project by Highland Manor Inc., D.B.A. Oak Hills Living Center. The resolution allows eligible parties to borrow money at a lower rate and tax exempt status. It is a refinance of and original loan and would benefit Oak Hills without cost to Brown County.

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

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