Tax proposal tied to planned Graham Park work
Olmsted County commissioner will hold public hearing on move will make way for sale of $2 million to $3 million in bonds to fund work.
Olmsted County is proposing a tax abatement that doesn’t abate taxes.
“I had heartburn with the name of this thing,” said Wilfredo Roman-Catala, the county’s chief financial officer.
The proposed use of the county’s property tax abatement authority, as defined by Minnesota statute, would be used to finance projects identified in the Graham Park Master Plan , but the move would not alter any tax bills.
“We identified properties that we believe will benefit from that improvement to Graham Park,” Roman-Catala said of commercial properties connected to Crossroad Center, west of the park that also serves as the county fairgrounds.
The regular county property taxes paid by those property owners would be identified as paying off debt connected to the Graham Park project.
“There is no difference in their tax statements,” Roman-Catala said. “The tax statements will not change at all. That’s the part that is so confusing about this whole thing.”
What the move does is help identify funds available for the Graham Park improvements, some of which are outlined in the county’s 2018 master plan.
Roman-Catala said the county has been making improvements on an annual basis, using property tax funds in a piecemeal fashion. It now anticipates selling $2 million to $3 million in bonds this year to cover some of the work that can be paid off over a 20-year period.
“This is benefiting our community for years to come,” he said, pointing out the borrowing can address upgrades without increasing the property tax levy as well as stabilize the funding needed each year to pay the debt.
“We needed to find ways to manage our budget,” he added.
While the proposal being presented to Olmsted County commissioners on Tuesday mentions plans for maintenance projects, bleacher replacement, parking improvements, a variety of upgrades, Roman-Catala said specific use of the anticipated funds has yet to be identified.
The county has been slowly making repairs and upgrades using the annual tax levy. Roman-Catala said the bonding option will let the county make some changes sooner and spread the cost over 20 years.
In addition to funds for basic repairs and upgrades to existing facilities, the county has also requested $12.5 million from state bonding efforts to build a regional multipurpose expo building in the park, but those funds have not materialized at this point.
When it comes to the public hearing Tuesday related to the tax issue, Roman-Catala said the option was suggested by the county’s legal and financial consultants connected to the anticipated bond sale, since Graham Park operations don’t generate enough revenue to cover the proposed debt.
While the added debt could be covered without a change in the tax status, he said the proposal points to how it will be covered, even though no adjustment in overall collected taxes is being made.
The hearing is slated to be held during the commissioner’s 3 p.m. meeting Tuesday in board chambers of the city-county Government Center. A link to join the meeting for online comments is available on the agenda posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx .
Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Sept. 14 include:
• City Council study session, 2:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188.
• Park Board study session, 4:45 p.m. Tuesday in the Parks and Recreation Office of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE. Video will be posted online following the meeting.
• Library Board, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Video of the meeting will be posted online at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas the following day.
• Health, Housing and Human Services committee, 11 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 4 of the Government Center. A recording of the meeting will be posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 1 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Physical Development Committee, 2 p.m. Tuesday in conference room 2 of the government center. A recording of the meeting will be posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Administrative Committee, 2 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Board of County Commissioners, 3 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center. The meeting livestream at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Parks Commission, 5 p.m. Tuesday via Skype. A recording of the meeting will be posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Environmental Commission, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday via Skype. A recording of the meeting will be posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Planning Advisory Commission, 7 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/
• Human Rights Commission, 7 p.m. Thursday in conference room 4 of the Government Center. A link to the meeting is available on the county calendar at https://www.co.olmsted.mn.us/yourgovernment/calendar/Pages/default.aspx
Rochester Public Schools
• School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW. Livestream at youtube.com/ISD535