Properties fill Wadena County Board discussion

Three property owners had their property values reviewed by the Wadena County commissioners on June 14, 2021.

Wadena County Commissioners 2021 2.jpg
Wadena County board members include commissioners Bill Stearns (left), Murlyn Kreklau, board chair Sheldon Monson, Mike Weyer and Jon Kangas. Photo courtesy of the Verndale Sun
Contributed / Verndale Sun

As the only property owner signed up for the board of equalization meeting on Monday, Thomas Lawrence expressed concerns about the area’s rise in property values and taxes.

Property owners could schedule an appointment with the Wadena County commissioners and county assessor Lee Brekke to appeal their property valuations as part of the yearly process .

Lawrence’s concern was about the percentage that his taxes were going up over the last three years in comparison to his neighbors. He bought his property in Menahga in 2016 and the market value has increased $90,000. Lawrence added a garage and since then has not changed the property.

Some of his neighbors have increased and decreased taxes with percentages in the teens and lower 20s. Lawrence said his are in the mid to upper 20s. He also noted that his house and garage is one of the bigger ones in the development.

Brekke said the increased value is due to home sales in the area, which have been increasing over the last three years. He also described various elements that go into assessing properties in several scenarios.


RELATED ARTICLE: Wadena County properties continue to sell at breakneck pace
While commissioner Jon Kangas voiced his agreement with Lawrence that the percentages should be closer together, the commissioners except Kangas approved of no change.

  • In one of two recommendations, a camping site owned by Hooligan Hideout, LLC in Huntersville Township had two less electric water hook-ups and two licenses added to campers on the property. By adding the licenses, the value can be removed from the building evaluation. Commissioners approved a reduced land value of $3,000 and a reduced building value of $25,000.

  • A residential property owned by Jonathan Harrison in Rockwood Township was switched back to an agricultural property. He had stopped farming in 2018 and added 15 acres back last year. Commissioners approved the increased property value of $10,500.

The board also approved:

  • The 2022 operating grant with the state for the Friendly Rider buses. The department is anticipating no local match costs. The local match was 15%.

  • A roof for the area above the Old Wadena Society ox cart for up to $2,500 from the Park Reserve account. The society is constructing a replica of the ox cart from 25 years ago.

  • Improvements at Anderson’s Crossing for $24,642 with Becker Contracting/Rockwood Sand & Gravel.

  • The county not buying any of the four properties for sale by the Department of Natural Resources. The properties were previously for sale and not bid on in 2020.

  • Combining several county owned parcels into one parcel per location. The list included 16 parcels that would be combined to seven.

  • Selling three county-owned parcels ; the parcels in Aldrich and Meadow Townships were deemed unbuildable and will hopefully be sold to adjacent landowners. The minimum bid for the Aldrich parcel is $500 and the Meadow parcel is $100. The Meadow parcel will need to be split due to state-owned land. County auditor-treasurer Heather Olson said the parcel may not sell due to this factor. The third parcel in Menahga has a minimum bid of $500 and the parcel could be buildable, such as the addition of a billboard. The Menahga parcel will open for closed bids on June 22 and close on July 20 at 9 a.m.

  • After a lengthy discussion on why the county and not the city was paying for the demolition, the board approved demolition of an apartment building and small house in Sebeka. The properties were deemed condemned before the county took ownership and if the city tore them down and added a special assessment people would likely not purchase the properties. The goal is to have the properties on the county’s tax rolls, as Olson said. The demolition is expected to cost about $40,000.

  • The list of tax forfeited parcels for an in-person auction at the Wadena County courthouse on Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. The minimum bids for the properties will be 25% of the assessed value. Kangas voted against the list since there would not be an online auction. The county had planned to host an online auction, though the fees placed on the buyer deterred them from using that method.

  • The 2022 memorandum of agreement with the Central Minnesota Council on Aging for program funding of $1,520.

  • The screening station at the courthouse has been removed.

  • The board will not meet on June 22. The next meeting is July 6 at 9 a.m.

Commissioners also had a closed session on negotiation strategies for labor contracts.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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