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Toole County Commissioners make budget decisions

Toole County Commissioners today (Mon.) gave unanimous approval to a new budget for the coming fiscal year, about a month later than normal.

The delay was the result of  a de-valuation of property owned by Naturener, operators of a wind farm in Western Toole County.     In a review of the property the State Department of Revenue approved a 6-percent reduction in taxable value and that caused Toole County’s mill value to decrease by 11-hundred dollars.

In a public budget hearing Monday morning,  Commission Chairman Alan Underdal said the Commission, having already negotiated a tax reduction agreement with Naturener should have been involved with or at least notified of the review, which he said took place in May, but Commissioners weren’t notified until they received valuation statements in August.

Underdal also said that basic reason for the property valuation decrease was because Naturener argued successfully that because the new wind farm that they are constructing cost less than the first…….then the initial wind farm should have less value.

The snowball effect of that ws that the value of the mill was down, meaning commissioners had to asess more mills to get more property taxes from Toole County taxpayers to make up for the decrease in revenue.   Additional mills were levied in every account with the biggest being 5 mills in the General fund.  In all just less than 13 mills were added compared to last years budget.

There were also some minor budget cuts, the biggest being a recommended 3.5 percent pay raise for elected officials and other county employees being trimmed to two percent.

Underdal emphasized that Commissioners will continue to look for options for dealing with the decrease and will make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again, especially with companies with whom they negotiate tax incentives.

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