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Corn Plus tax settlement affects Winnebago, BEA

By Staff | Aug 22, 2010

An agreement settling a tax appeal has been signed, sealed and will be delivered to a Corn Plus attorney.

Faribault County Attorney Brian Roverud told county commissioners on Tuesday the settlement calls for a “slight reduction” in property taxes the ethanol producer will pay for one year.

“They (Corn Plus) backed off substantially from their original demands,” says Roverud.

The company filed a petition with the Minnesota State Tax Court appealing property taxes paid for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Records at the county assessor’s office show the nearly 37 acres where the main facility is located had a valuation of $3.179 million.

“The positive thing is we’ll maintain the valuation of $3.179 million for three years (2008, 2009 and 2010). We’re guaranteed that. The company will not file an appeal for 2011,” Roverud says.

The agreement ends two and a half years of negotiations between the compa-ny and county officials.

County Assessor Sue Wiltse says talks between the parties were civil and the county stood firm in its position.

“We were pretty confident the valuations would stand up in court. We dug in our heels,” she says. “The company understood what the impact would be and wanted to be good neighbors too,”

Roverud says the company agreed to only appeal the property taxes paid in 2008 for the year 2007. For that year, Corn Plus paid $102,804.

In 2008, the company paid $105,804 and has paid half of the $108,464 owed for 2009.

The next step will be for the assessor’s office to prepare paperwork for an abatement.

Under the agreement, the property valuation for 2007 was reduced from $3.179 million to $2.345 million.

That means Corn Plus overpaid $27,407 in taxes.

Winnebago would lose the most at $11,299, while the county loses $6,559 and Blue Earth Area School District around $5,000.

County Auditor/treasurer John Thompson says Corn Plus will be mailed a refund check in the next few weeks.

Thompson says the overpayments to Winnebago, county and school district will be deducted from the next tax payment they will receive in December.

In other business, the board:

• Passed a resolution increasing the amount Human Services will pay annually for the 5,100 square feet of office area they rent from the county.

The county will now collect $43,758 beginning Jan. 1. 2011.

Commissioner John Roper, who was a member of an executive committee that studied the matter, says the increase is about $5,000 a year. He says the extra money will be spent on new carpet and other improvements.

The Faribault-Martin Human Services Board also must approve the hike in rent.

• Approved a resolution to access federal and state funds for bridge repairs or replacement under the county’s five-year plan.

The 18 projects have an estimated total cost of $4.755 million, with the county earmarking $135,000.

Work on five bridges is scheduled next year, three bridges in 2013, four in 2013, two in 2014 and four in 2015.

• Approved a low bid of $305,916 from Midwest Contracting of Marshall to replace three township bridges in Blue Earth City, Barber and along the Seely/Kiester townships line with box culverts.

The bid was 17 percent under the engineer’s estimate of $368,880.

Also approved was a bid for $340,712 to replace a bridge on County State Aid Highway 9, west of Elmore.

M & K Construction of Walnut Grove was the low bidder with an amount that was 7 percent below the original estimate of $366,946.