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Not-to-exceed levy is set

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners set the 2009 proposed property tax levy Tuesday morning at the maximum increase allowed by the state, at 3.9 percent. This is a not-to-exceed levy, which means that the county can lower it at any time before the end of the year.

The increase will amount in $9,501,270 in tax dollars collected in the county in 2009.

After weeks of budget wrangling, commissioners worked out a budget that would require a 3.67 percent increase in the 2009 levy. However, knowing that the state has set levy limits for each of the next three years, Commissioner Norm Gallagher suggested they set the proposed 2009 levy increase at the maximum allowed by the state.

As County Administrator Mel Ruppert pointed out, the difference between a 3.67 percent levy increase and a 3.9 percent levy increase would be $21,374.

In addition to setting the proposed levy increase, commissioners opted not to host a Truth in Taxation public hearing on the levy increase. The state does not require counties to have a hearing, and Commissioner Diane Thier cited the amount of time and costs involved, as well as the lack of public attendance, as her reasons for not scheduling the hearing.

In other action, the board:

l Discussed the implementation of mandatory septic system compliance inspections on all parcels sold within Nobles County beginning in late 2009.

Nobles County Environmental Services director Wayne Smith said the state recently made major revisions to its septic system plan, and is now mandating that all counties update their septic plans by 2010. Smith reported that work has already begun on the county's plan, with implementation slated for the fall of 2009.

With inspections required at the point of sale, Smith said he anticipated approximately 25 inspections would need to be done per year. While there are numerous local businesses that do septic system work, Smith said none of them are licensed inspectors.

"Under state statute, the only one who can disclose where a septic is, is the inspector," said Smith. There are approximately 2,300 septic systems in Nobles County.

"I think this is a great starting place ... mandatory at the time of sale," said Commissioner Thier. "We all want clean water."

l Approved the completion of the 2008 bituminous paving contract, and authorized the final payment of $85,678.21 to Duininck Bros., Inc., of Prinsburg.

l Discussed concerns regarding the entrances to six driveways along Nobles County 19 in Lismore. Work done on the road this summer included the addition of drive-over curbs at driveway entrances, and some of the residents are complaining about the bumps. Commissioners directed Nobles County Public Works director Stephen Schnieder to contact the affected residents before making a decision. One possible solution would be to saw the curb down to create a more smooth entrance into the driveways. Schnieder said the action could cost the county approximately $8,000.

l Approved several contracts in the Nobles County Family Service Agency, and appointed 10 individuals to a newly organized Local Mental Health Advisory Committee. This committee takes the place of a 4-county advisory committee that disbanded in 2007. Among the committee members are Lori Buschena, Kathy Kusz, Kent Wilkening, Monette Soderholm, Scott Johnson, LaVonne Vorthems, James Cook, Deb Clem, Tami Ehret and Mary Fischer.

l Made citizen appointments to several boards and committees. Jeff Williamson was reappointed, while Jeff Rogers was newly appointed, to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District; Mark Slater was reappointed to the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed District; and Mary Fischer will take over the term of Lee McAllister on the DAC board. Also, Marcia LaVelle will fulfill the remainder of Norma Voss' term on the DAC board.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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