Only three citizens spoke at Goodhue County’s Truth-in-Taxation meeting Thursday, and each of their concerns stemmed from a 78-megawatt wind project planned within the county.
The meeting was intended to give county residents an opportunity to share their thoughts on the 1.91 percent levy increase Goodhue County has proposed for its 2012 budget. That hike is lower than the threshold the state has set for mandated truth-in-taxation meetings.
“The board of commissioners has said we want to do this for our public even though we don’t have to,” Goodhue County Finance Director Carolyn Holmsten explained at the meeting.
Rather than commenting directly about the budget, however, citizens spoke primarily about aspects surrounding the AWA Goodhue Wind case and reached the budget in a roundabout way.
Steve Groth, of Goodhue, told the board that allowing wind turbines in the county would greatly deflate the value of homes in the area.
“Our property values will suffer. If we’re going to try to sell our places, we’ll have to take significantly less,” he said.
Another Goodhue resident, Marie McNamara, also addressed the subject of a wind project and how it would impact a lot of dairy farms.
“People are very concerned about what they’ve put their life into,” McNamara said.
Her presentation was interrupted by Board Chairman Ted Seifert when he felt that she was straying from the point of the gathering.
“This is a budget meeting,” County Administrator Scott Arneson added, reminding citizens that their comments should be limited to the 2012 budget and their property taxes from the proposed levy increase.
Zumbrota resident Barbara Stussy asked commissioners whether there was specific money budgeted to defend county ordinances. Stussy was one of many citizens at a Belle Creek Town Board meeting Monday that was under the impression that more than $200,000 was allotted to Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher to defend ordinances.
In the wind litigation, Betcher said he has spent about $5,000 from a land-use fund to pay for copying and filing documents, but hasn’t received approval from the board to spend any more than that.
“That fund that’s being referred to is not for defense of ordinances,” he explained. “It’s for cost of cleanup associated with some of these ordinances that we have.”
No other citizens voiced concerns at the truth-in-taxation meeting. County commissioners will set Goodhue County’s final levy Dec. 20.
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