Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed 

Some veterans slow to apply for property tax breaks


"Do we hold their hand and constantly remind them to apply for the veterans' exclusion for paying property taxes?" Duane Brownie, Veterans Affairs officer for Carlton County, asked of the county board at a recent meeting. "Marci Moreland, assessor, and I are asking for direction from you."

Brownie explained St. Louis County sent out just one letter to vets each year to explain their rights to property tax relief mandated by statute. Some eligible veterans are called repeatedly besides getting several written notices. This has cost significant loss of staff time for other needs.

Moreland commented, "Twenty-three eligible veterans have not applied for this exclusion. In fact there has not been any communication with my office after repeated notices. There are 83 veterans that have to apply every year to renew their status. Overall, there are 300 veterans that are approved for the exclusion and this creates a $29 million non-taxable property impact. This, in real available taxes received, has grown over the years to be about $500,000. This tax burden is spread to the other County tax payers. The County budget is not reimbursed for this money from the Federal or State funding sources."

Commissioner Tom Proulx responded, "I like going the extra mile; we are a small county."

After extended discussion, Moreland summed up how her assessor's department will handle these veteran property tax cases, "We will send out one notice to those eligible that have not applied, marked important, please read — this will be the standard approach."

County Coordinator Dennis Genereau asked for guidance on what to do with old county board photos that were hung in the old board room at the courthouse. The consensus of the board was to donate the pictures to the county historical society.

Genereau asked if the board wished to have a current picture hanging in their present board meeting area. Bodie stated, "We don't need a picture of the current board on the wall — they can come here and see what we look like."

The working relationship between the county board and the Soil and Water Conservation District came up again in board discussion. Commissioner Sue Zmyzlony began by saying, "I understand that the county board and the SWCD board have differences on the need for a new SWCD building, but I think this goes beyond that. It appears there should be a discussion about the SWCD programs and their value to the county and how their work affects the value of area property."

Chairman Marv Bodie responded, "We can't treat them any differently than other parts of county services."

Zmyzlony continued, "I do understand each county handles their SWCD program differently."

Economic Development Director Connie Christensen interjected, "No other county SWCD has its own building." She explained she had sent their board a letter to say her department was not dedicating time to write grants for a SWCD building. She felt such activity did not create jobs or expand economic activity.

Commissioner Dick Brenner observed, "I still think the building is an issue. If we are going to have a discussion with the SWCD people I would need examples of issues not connected with our differences on a building program."

Rep. Mike Sundin was a visitor at this board meeting. Bodie asked him if the SWCD will get bonding authority from the state Legislature to build a new building. Sundin responded, "It would be difficult at best."


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