Financial Blog

Use close vote on 123 to galvanize K-12 action

These were the same lawmakers and governor who still insist on not increasing general taxes, no matter how dire the need, while continuing to cut corporate taxes at a projected cost to the general fund by 2018 of $350 million. They are also the same Republicans who are pushing the expansion of private school vouchers at the expense of public education funding. For Ducey and the Republicans to say that much of the 'No' campaign was not specifically about them and the terms they negotiated tells us they need to get out more.

Dayton offers to drop gas tax increase

The system has continued to get older and the use of the system has increased, Dayton said.

Dayton said the public wants politicians to fund transportation needs.

The governors original plan would have raised about $600 million a year, mostly by the gas tax, but he also included a smaller tab fee increase than what he now suggests. His new plan without a gas tax increase calls for $400 million in new tab fees and $200 million taken from other state programs funded by general taxes.

Senate Democrats would increase tab fees $180 million, but take no money from other programs. They also seek a 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase.

House Republicans want to transfer $300 million annually.

The Dayton administration and Senate Democrats say they would borrow some money, but their plans do not specify how much. The House plans to borrow about $300 million for transportation.

While the House and Dayton look for $600 million a year in new transportation money a year, the Senate plan would be nearly $1 billion.

RM of Montcalm Proposes 2016 Budget, Farmers Could See Big Tax Increase

The RM of Montcalm is presenting a budget of approximately $2.9 million for 2016, which is an increase of about four per cent from the 2015 budget.

In general, taxes for most residential properties will be close to last year.

Montcalm Deputy Reeve Emile Remillard says farm properties will see a significant increase.

``The farmland will be most impacted because the assessment has gone up 75 per cent,`` he commented. ``The biggest increase will be based on the school taxes. The school divisions are asking us for half a million dollars more this year.``

All rate-payers in the RM of Montcalm will also see a recreation levy of $130 dollars per residential unit. Letellier Fire Hall

The biggest purchase of the year for the RM of Montcalm was a new fire truck for Letellier, which cost $325,000. The new Letellier Fire Hall will also receive $24,400 to help pay for its completion.

Future Challenges for the RM of Montcalm include the St. Jean and Letellier lagoons. Both were at capacity this spring and will require an increase in capacity or reduction of volume.

Remillard says council is hoping that grant money will be available for the lagoon upgrades, with the new provincial and federal governments in place.

The proposed 2016 financial plan has undergone first reading.

Valley View lots not selling Need for high end homes not met

The Staples housing assessment presented at the Staples Economic Development Authority meeting in April showed a strong demand for high end homes, both for rental and to purchase. Michael Schoenecker of AdMark Resources, the company that did the assessment, said there are relatively few lots in Staples where high-end homes could be built. There is one subdivision on the north end of Staples where new homes can be built, but only five homes have been built there since it opened in 2008 and the national housing bubble burst.

In 2006, the housing market was good and the Highview subdivision, which was a project taken on by the city, had just been filled up. "It made sense to start a new one at the time," said City Administrator Jerel Nelsen, who was the EDA director then.

Nelsen said the Highview lots sat idle for a while when it was first developed, then it took off.

When Jim Vogel and Wayne Haglin approached the city with a proposal to develop what is now known as Valley View, under the name of Voglin Properties, the city council was pleased because they did not want to continue in the real estate business, said Nelsen. The council had considered developing city owned land north of Highview and west of 12th St NE, but they decided that private development would be better.

The city used a bond to bring utilities to the area, paid for through general taxes and special assessments. Soon after the Valley View development was constructed with sewer, water, electricity and paved streets, the housing turndown of 2008 hit. 

"They were a victim of the times," said Nelsen. 

There are now five houses built on Spruce Drive in the development, but there is plenty of room for more homes to be built.

Nelsen said the development included a five year assessment deferral for the paved roads and a 12 year deferral for sewer and water. 

Staples City Clerk Phil Lindaman said as soon as a house is built, the assessments kick in. The five homes that are built are paying off their assessments, with two of them already paid off completely. 

Nelsen said the city is not worried about losing their investment. "Over time it will develop and the assessments will be paid," said Nelsen. That time could start soon, as the recent housing study indicated a need for newer homes in Staples.

Wayne Haglin still owns most of the Valley View lots. He said everything is still for sale but he hasn't gotten many phone calls recently, even though the housing market is picking up. "The lots have $20,000 of assessments on them and people don't want to pay it," said Haglin. "I don't have any hopes that they will sell."

Since they are not selling, Haglin said he has stopped paying taxes on them and will let them go over to the state, in which case Wadena County would eventually sell the lots. He said there could be a chance for it to work if the city takes them over and implement creative financing to mitigate the assessments, but he said he hasn't been able to work out a deal.


This week work started on a new home in Staples at the corner of Prairie Ave. and 2nd Street NE. The lot was purchased from the City of Staples by Shawna Kovach.

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