NEW ULM - Following Brown County Assessor's Office recommendations, the Brown County Board of Appeal and Equalization reduced the value of four properties Monday night.
Brown County Commissioner Richard Seeboth cast the only dissenting vote of the night after the board approved a $181,000 building value reduction for the Super Center Square (strip mall) Addition, 1702 Westridge Road, (adjacent to the Wal-Mart Supercenter), from $2,950,200 to $2,768,500.
"It sounds like we're really high here. I don't think we're doing enough," said Seeboth. "The State doesn't help us with their heavy tax burden."
Doug Bercu of Timber Development Corp. New Ulm Properties, asked for a strip mall value reduction. Its original 2013 value of $2,993,000 was cut to $2,950,200; plus a 7.5 percent land value reduction, from $570,700 to $527,900 by the New Ulm City Board of Review. Building value remained the same at $2,422,300.
"The mall is 100 percent leased, but I'm losing $35,000 to $40,000 a year on (property) taxes," Bercu said. "High property taxes can keep businesses out. I've met many great people here. I'd love to bring more businesses here, but I can't afford to do it with these taxes. Money is like water. If it hits a rock, it goes somewhere else."
Brown County Assessor Rita Treml said the Minnesota Legislature increased business and industrial taxes when it changed the homestead credit to a homestead (tax) exclusion several years ago.
"Rates rise when you reduce the tax base," Treml said.
"I have faith in local government to do the right thing," Bercu said.
The board unanimously approved:
Reducing a Square Addition strip mall property rear lot from $89,000 to $75,000.
No changes on Elmer Rolloff's request to reduce the value of his 5.75-acre wood lot, now valued at $11,500. County wood lot values increased from $900 to $2,000 an acre recently.
"Re-evaluate timber land," Rolloff said. "Look at what's on the land."
Treml said recent wood lot sales ranged from $2,531 to $3,000 an acre.
No changes on Thomas Ulrich's value reduction request on a 9.78 acre wood lot.
Changes requested by Fred Juni for 10 percent small field reduction on 12.3 tillable acres owned by Dan Juni, south of County Road 29.
Reducing the taxable value of Thomas Anderson's farmstead from $1,727,900 to $1,389,400.
No changes to Jerome Graff's request to two land parcels in Stately Township. Treml said his farm land values were based on local averages.
No changes on Michael Byro's market value reduction request for tax-forfeited property at 103 4th St. East in Hanska that he recently bought.
Reduced Dwight Nilson's tillable acres on two land parcels by 2.1 acres, according to Farm Service Agency (FSA) maps.
Reduced Linda Savoy's assessed acres from 9 to 7.93 acres, resulting in a value reduction from $18,000 to $15,900, because parts of Shag Road and Foss Road were considered part of her property legal description.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).