Properties are moving back onto Wadena County’s tax rolls with the sale of 29 parcels in the first online-only tax forfeited land sale.

The county worked with Bid4Assets to host the sale from Oct. 4-6, which included activity on all of the 37 parcels listed, as county auditor-treasurer Heather Olson said. Plus the 75 people registered was a great bonus as the county hasn’t seen this high level of involvement before. While the early registration and working a new online system brought extra work, and phone calls, Olson said Bid4Assets was great and the process will be even easier next time.

Olson highlighted the unexpected sale of a main street building in Sebeka, and the largest parcel sale as one that has been sitting with the county for about 70 years. The property, along the Crow Wing River, had an incorrect title that staff members fixed, and now the “beautiful parcel” can make the county money again, as Olson said.

The sales totaled $422,515 with the final amount depending on tax settlements for the school districts and cities and demolition costs for two houses in Sebeka. Olson said one use of the sale funds is helping lower the levy.

Before moving the sale online, the board approved a list of 55 parcels in June and 37 parcels were placed on the online sale. A few parcels were pulled prior to the online sale due to size and legal questions. The remaining parcels will move to an over the counter sale.

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With the goal of having yearly land sales, Olson hopes to move the sale to August or September to balance the work during election years.

The board also:

  • Approved a position transfer from the assessor’s department to the sheriff’s office for Monica Sanford as an administrative assistant records at $26.59 per hour.

  • Approved the job description and pay grade for a records specialist/appraiser trainee. The position replaces the record specialist position while also preparing for future retirements and allowing flexibility for the employee and managers. County assessor Lee Brekke said record specialist and appraisal work is shared already in the assessor department. While not in favor of the position, Kangas said the county could discuss merging departments to possibly save staff hours. The cost of employee training was also a concern.

  • Approved the $10,843 bid for a new furnace and air conditioning system at the solid waste department. The system is for the office, bathrooms, break room and hallway. The Wadena Sheet Metal & Heating, Inc bid was the only one submitted due to the lack of equipment available.

  • Approved an agreement with the state for two Friendly Rider buses. The state will cover 90% of the cost with 10% from the Friendly Rider reserve. The reserve comes from ridership fees and the advertising on the buses. The board will approve the purchase of the buses at a later meeting. The time frame for receiving the buses is uncertain; a bus that was ordered in 2019 has not yet arrived.

  • Approved the 2022 county health insurance contribution of $953 for employee only, $1,389 for employee plus one and $1,782 for employee plus family. Waiving coverage is available to employees hired before Jan. 1, 2013. The contribution is a 9% increase; the county expected a 7% increase. For 2021, there was a 10% increase. The insurance increases are hard to budget for and need to be re-evaluated in the future, as Kangas said.

  • Corrected a motion for the sale of a McCormick tractor from the highway department that was incorrectly listed on MinnBid as a 2008 that will be resold as a 2005.