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Dec 11

Ditch Happenings Dec. 7th - Dec. 11th

Posted on December 11, 2015 at 3:28 PM by Acacia Wytaske

At the December 1st, 2015 Board of Commissioner's Meeting, the annual Single Year Levies were approved, including a new Public Drainage Assessment for Administration levy.

In this blog, I'll provide some insight into the new assessment. This is a newly created levy that is being assessed to landowners who benefit from a properly working drainage system for the production of crops. 
As mentioned numerous times, county drainage systems in Blue Earth County and across the state of MN, were originally installed in the early 1900's.  Simply put, the ditch systems have well outlived their life expectancy and need to be repaired, and in many cases, replaced all together to meet NRCS minimum drainage guidelines. Even more importantly, the benefits that were originally assigned nearly a century ago are completely outdated and must be brought up to date in order for landowners to be fairly assessed.  This is done by a redetermination of benefits.  Each process, whether it is a repair, an improvement, or a redetermination of benefits, is a timely and involved process that is managed by county staff and must follow the strict laws outlined in Minnesota State Statute Chapter 103E.  

The memo to the Board of Commissioners stated:

"With increasing occurrences of ditch repairs and improvement projects to Blue Earth County public drainage systems, along with recent legislative changes regarding the maintenance of ditches, time demands placed on in-field drainage staff is increasing. The county is committed to providing adequate services for our public drainage systems and wants to be proactive in these efforts. An annual system-wide drainage assessment allows the county to dedicate new and additional resources across the system for in-field work.

The total assessment amount will be collected into one fund and will be used to cover departmental drainage expenses such as a percentage od two drainage position salaries, benefits and work-related expenses, attorney fees associated with repairs and improvements, and drainage viewer associated expenses."

The overall assessment amount is divided equally among benefited acres across all Blue Earth County public drainage systems, equating to approximately $0.76 per benefited acre.

I thought the Free Press did a decent job explaining the new levy in their "Our View: County Ditches" article published on December 8th. However, just to clarify, the new levy totalling $144,500 is not being shifted from the general fund, it is a newly created levy that is being charged solely to landowners with benefited land on the public ditch systems. 

Other than approving the single year levies, two drainage inspection reports were also approved;
1. JJD02 (Jamestown Township) was approved to have sloughing repaired.
2. JJD83 (McPherson Township) was approved to have a blowout repaired and an obstruction removed.

Weekly Tidbits:

 - On Thursday, December 10th, we held an informational meeting regarding the upcoming improvement hearing for JD09 (LeRay Township).  The preliminary improvement hearing will be held on December 15th, 2015 at 9:45am at the Historical Courthouse located at 204 S 5th St, Mankato, MN.

 - Today, the CD34 Improvement Prepayment letters were mailed to CD34 landowners. The letter gives information to the landowners on the option to prepay the full assessment amount of the CD34 Improvement to avoid paying interest.

I don't have any exciting assessment related pictures for this blog so I'll share this picture that was taken last weekend in New Ulm, MN. They really go all out for Christmas decorations around there!

Casey Wytaske
Taxpayer Service Specialist - Drainage & Taxation