The Rice County Board of Commissioners learned today tax abatements in the county totaled $940,689.43 in 2019 with some of the cases dating back to 2012.  Property Tax and Elections Department Director Denise Anderson the county portion of lost tax dollars amounted to $274,861.06.

Anderson told commissioners, "On top of that we (Rice County) have to pay interest, four percent.  So if they made their payment for their taxes in 2012, which a couple of them are appealing it, we have to go back to 2012 and give them interest from the date that they made their payment.  It's not fair."

Commissioner Jeff Docken asked what could be changed.  Anderson replied, "There are ideas out there that maybe they are not taxed on the property value.  Maybe they are taxed on usage instead.  I don't know there's a lot of legislation talking about it."

Commissioners asked what the response has been from the State Department of Revenue.  County Administrator Sara Folstad said the communication between the state and county has improved. "It hasn't changed the outcome but they are sharing more information.  The frustration for us is you (Rice County) are doing the assessments.  They're (state) making the decision and then when they get appealed, you know when we get appealed we decide what we fight a little harder on and they are just granting all these and then we're responsible, county, cities, townships, school districts with giving these funds back."

Folstad explained, "we're trying to increase cooperation for decision making on this and how you repay.  There's been some ideas floated around on, you know, should the state be responsible for some of this because they are doing the assessments and not us and there's just a lot of trying to figure out that relationship between us and the state in regards to how the state assesses properties."

The largest abatements appear to be for Northern Natural Gas and Great River Energy Companies.  Anderson also reported there were many disaster abatements due to the 2018 tornadoes that struck the area.

"Some of the disaster, depending on if it was a abatement or a credit has been reimbursed to the county. The state does not reimburse both. They only reimburse one.  It's still a lot.  a $27,000 dollar hit to the county.

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