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MinnCan pipeline a boon to property tax receipts

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Much to commissioners' relief, the proposed tax dollar increase for added value from the MinnCan pipeline project from taxes payable in 2009 to taxes payable in 2010 is $506,194 for Wadena County.

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County Assessor Lee Brekke presented the county board with a list of estimated market values and tax dollar differences for the 12 parcels in the county affected by the pipeline.

The total proposed tax dollar difference including the county, school districts, state, special taxing district and townships amounts to $1,065,960.

"So I can feel pretty good about my support of the 3.2 [percent] levy?" Miller asked.

Stearns said yes, he thought Miller could feel pretty good about supporting the levy increase.

Miller had expressed concern at the Dec. 29 county board meeting about tax revenue from the pipeline being much less than what he expected when the board approved the 3.23 percent preliminary levy increase Sept. 14 for taxes payable in 2010. He said in December that the board was under the impression that pipeline taxes would have covered the $233,000 special levy the board approved by almost three fold.

Brekke and Auditor/Treasurer Char West reported the pipeline would pay approximately $680,000 of the county's property tax levy, according to minutes from the Sept. 14 meeting.

Instead, Miller said Dec. 29 he was told the revenue would end up being more like $37,000 to $38,000.

Stearns told Miller at the time that he didn't know where he came up with those numbers. A letter to the editor by Stearns published in the Dec. 19 Pioneer Journal stated that the new pipeline and drop in market values factor into the tax equation, which gives the county the rare opportunity to levy back the $233,000 the state unalloted and build up the county's low reserves without necessarily increasing taxes.

He asked Brekke to put together the numbers he presented Jan. 21.

Miller was now comfortable with the numbers he heard in regard to tax revenue from the pipeline, he said.

Construction on the 304-mile pipeline was completed in September 2008 with some restoration work continuing through late 2008 and early 2009, according to the MinnCan project Web site.

The pipeline is owned by Minnesota Pipe Line Company and operated by Koch Pipeline Company.

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