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Blue Earth levy to rise 3 percent

December 7, 2010
Jodelle Greiner — Staff Writer

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth City Council passed its 2010 levy, gave $50,000 to the Faribault County Economic Development Corporation and set aside funds for a park shelter on Monday.

The council approved a 3 percent increase in the local property tax levy.

During the public hearing for the 2011 budget, the council heard from Greg Holland, who questioned why his taxes are going up $63 when he has been taking care of the road in front of his business at 919 E. Fourteenth Street.

"Gravel's not cheap. I've had three semi loads of gravel hauled in there," Holland said.

"I have no problem maintaining it," he said, but questioned why he is paying as much in taxes as other properties that receive city maintenance.

"What legal obligation do we have to the property?" asked Mayor Rob Hammond. "We can't reduce the taxes unless we do it in a valuation period in May. We'll look at it at that time."

Hammond asked City Attorney David Frundt to study the matter and report back at the next meeting.

Meanwhile, Travis Keister of the development corporation promised to work with the business owners of Blue Earth.

A director is not in place, Keister acknowledged, "but we'll be offering the position by the end of the week."

"Is it understood we'd like to see this guy a little more often?" asked Councilman Glenn Gaylord. "It's reasonable if every couple months, he addressed the council as a whole."

"Absolutely," Keister responded.

"It's a matter of building a relationship and trust," said Councilman John Huisman.

Huisman and Gaylord expressed support for giving the corporation $50,000.

"There's a number of reasons why I'm backing this," said Gaylord, noting, "We couldn't hire someone for $50,000."

The council approved the outlay over Councilwoman Paula Kelly's dissent. Councilman Dan Brod was absent Monday.

In other business, City Administrator Kathy Bailey said construction costs for a shelter at Putnam Park are not in the budget, but the council decided to fund the shelter anyway. One problem is the council will not know until May whether the state will cut funding to local governments. The council decided to see what happens at the state level before moving ahead on the project.

In another matter, the council voted to approve a lease for the city animal shelter with the Faribault County Humane Society.

Bailey said the animal control officer will still be responsible for picking up stray animals and bringing them to the shelter, but Humane Society volunteers will care for the animals.

In other business, Huisman suggested setting aside money to help Blue Earth businesses along Highway 169 for when the state works on the highway in 2012. The money could be used to improve the businesses' rear entrances to allow customers access while construction takes place.

"We need a better idea of what the businesses want," Bailey said, adding, "We do have funds that need to be used or they will go back to the state."

In other action, the council:

o Voted to accept the deed for the property at 510 N. Grant St., owned by John Hinshaw.

o Voted to accept a bid of $57,500 from Beemer Companies of Fairmont for demolition of a building at 102 N. Main St.



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