Mower County Board jumps at ways to save
The Mower County Board took two steps toward lowering the cost of local government in small ways on Tuesday morning.
Both came out of the assessor’s office, where Richard Peterson has been on the alert for such opportunities. The first involves time that his office takes in the computation of taxes on properties that have been broken up for sale to more than one buyer.
Peterson gave the board members this example: "Say an owner wants to sell his 40-acre parcel. The state requires that the current year taxes be paid on that particular parcel, all 40 acres of it. But the Realtor finds a buyer who wants 35 acres of that land and another buyer who would like 5 acres.
"The split is just a courtesy for us," he said.
Because of the requirements involved, however, the work is not so simple, and Realtors are often in a hurry.
"At times, we’ve got more than our share of requests for splitting taxes and closing is this afternoon."
Peterson said the suggestion grew out of a request to all county branches to look for places where time could be saved. He suggested that a fee of $30 for a split and $45 if it was in three parcels.
"I just need some guidance here," he told the board.
Board member Ray Tucker recommended a flat fee of $50, and board chairman Tim Gabrielson suggested "a three-day notice so the request would not create an emergency for the assessor’s office resulting in an overtime situation. Tucker suggested an Oct. 1 start date and the motion passed unanimously.
Jeremy Carolan, owner/broker of Carolan homes told the board he understood their concern but still disagreed.
"The extra costs will be passed on to the buyers," he said. "A fee is a tax."
The other cash-saving item involves the assessor’s website, which makes it convenient for brokers to access information that they once had to get at the county courthouse.
Peterson said he had asked Vanguard Appraisals for a year’s extension and they responded that the county could cut the cost by 15 percent for a three-year contract and 25 percent on a five-year agreement.
After quizzing Peterson on the effectiveness of the site, the board jumped at the five-year offer, saving the county $1,375 or one full year’s service charge.