Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Sometimes elderly folks forget to eat. Sometimes they don’t feel like cooking an adequate meal. Sometimes it is easier to just snack than to prepare a balanced meal and then sit down and eat it – all by yourself. It is no fun to cook for one. And it is less fun to eat alone.
That is why congregate dining spots have been developed. But what about those who cannot get to the dining spot or those who live in rural, more isolated spots? The Public Health folks at Nicollet County have a number of options including meals on wheels. However transportation costs are cutting into everything we do. One clever new option for Nicollet County residents who qualify for the Elderly Waivered program is already prepared meals that come to the doorstep by UPS. These are prepared, packaged, fresh meals that only need be refrigerated. This is possible by using USDA approved packaging technology and it is guaranteed 14 days of freshness in a refrigerator after delivery.
Nicollet County signed a contract with Moms Meals last Tuesday to use their services for clients qualifying for the waivered program. End.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Last week the Nicollet County Board of Commissioners and a member of the Auditor/Treasurer’s office met for the purpose of equalizing the property values of all commercial, residential, and agricultural properties in the county. This process is an attempt by public officials where each tract or lot of real property is examined and compared with the purpose of coming up with an equalized value for all property. This value is then entered on the assessment list as its market value.
This process is part of the way the tax system in Minnesota is run. While property values are a different issue than taxes, it is the value of our property that has a direct effect on how much we pay in taxes. Other issues that enter in are the tax rate that is given to each type of property by the legislature. For example: it is good public policy to encourage home ownership, so homes are given a lower rate than other types of property. Minnesota statute 274.14 describes the process in great detail.
In April I attended a meeting of counties and heard a presentation by the Hennepin County Assessor. He said that this year, for the first time in his 20 plus year history with the county, the total assessed value of the property would decline. This is primarily due to decreased values of homes. I was glad to sit in the audience and know I was from a county that has a diversity of kinds of property. We are not strictly dependent on homes and commercial property.
Last week, Nicollet County Assessor Doreen Pehrson noted that Nicollet County has seen some slow down in home sales, but she said “the average sales prices for homes was higher in 2007 than in 2006.” (Average sales price in 2006 was $169,953 and 2007 was $178,630.) So the slump has not hit Nicollet County to the same extent as the metro areas. The other positive we have for us is that farmland is increasing in value. So if we lose value in one area, we make up for it in another area. When all of the calculations are done, it is the tax capacity of the whole county that is important. This is the bread and butter of all local units of government i.e. schools, cities, counties, and townships. This figure and the budgets of each of those units is what determines our taxes. end


I have been neglecting to post anything for awhile. Not that there has not been loads of good stuff to write about. Writing has been somewhat neglected in preparation for our Norseland Sesquicentennial event which was this past week end. It was a wonderful time and all of the work was certainly worth it and I think it paid off in the end.
It is estimated between 1500 and 2000 people attended. I can testify that we served over 900 people pork chop suppers in two and a half hours. The weather cooperated. Also, we had wonderful help from many people including the Nicollet County Sheriff, Nicollet County Sentence to Serve and the county administration. Thanks to all.
Evidently "detour" signs are popular room ornaments for young people. We lost a few of them and that is an expense we will have to bear. If anyone hears about some detour signs that are decorating some walls, give me a call. Thanks again. end