By Teri Knight, News Director
For some time, the Northfield Council has discussed setting up franchise fees on gas and electric utilities to pay for street repairs, rather than using street assessments per property owner. This week the council took up the subject again at a work session with consultant Doug Greene of Baker/Tilly. City Administrator Ben Martig explained that, “Right now we do special assessments with projects, where under state law we can issue debt to reconstruct streets if we do, basically, assess at least 10% of the improved value to properties.” He noted that it is not a science but an “art,” continuing, “It’s a more costly process that takes longer for staff and for publications and for council revue.
And you ultimately do an assessment which can be $5,000 or more for special assessments for individuals.” There are options such as, “…reconstruction bonds where you do basically capital improvement planning. So you do like a five-year plan and then you have some public hearings and you can do it but then you don’t assess anybody for it so the cost would be spread against everybody.” However, to replace that revenue with property tax it would be a 5% increase, which also means, “…the downside is on special assessments all users of property pay for the special assessment so even tax exempt properties. So if you’re a church, if you live along a roadway, even though you might not pay property taxes, you’ll ultimately have to pay for a portion of that road improvement.” Another alternative is those franchise fees. One was a flat fee; the other would be based on usage. Another question regarding the special assessments is how to deal with people that have recent assessments. Martig said this is part one of at least a two-part discussion with the council. Martig’s full interview is on our website at kymnradio.net. For a view of the video of the meeting, go to the City’s website.
Farmington woman accused of writing nearly $4500 in fraudulent checks
A Farmington woman is accused of check forgery. On June 3, 2019, two victims went to the Northfield Police Department to report fraud/theft after being notified by their bank in Northfield that they had a negative balance of nearly $1500 on their account and learned that someone had obtained their bank account information and ordered checks through an online company using a name with the initials CTM. That person then went on a spending spree at various businesses writing nearly $4300 in checks. The victims don’t know a “CTM.” Also on June 3, Rice County Sheriff’s Investigator Jason Witt learned that there was a real person with the initials CTM in Minneapolis who had reported that her passport had been stolen. Witt was able to obtain video surveillance images from businesses in Dundas, Lakeville and Burnsville of the person suspected of writing the checks. She was identified as 36-year-old Rachel Lea Kalas, and was located June 7 at her home in Farmington. Kalas is charged with check forgery, a felony carrying up to five years in prison. Her initial court appearance is July 10.
What’s up with all that scaffolding on Division?
What’s up with all that scaffolding in front of the Rare Pair and Monarch Gift Shop? Bluewater Properties owns the Central Block building on Division Street. KYMN spoke with property manager Chris Ekern, who said the tornadoes that hit Bridge Square and Fourth Street last September also struck the building, destroying the parapet wall on the roof. Emergency repair was done last year but a contractor is now restoring the wall and the brickwork. The scaffolding is there to allow the front doors of the stores to be open while they crews on the roof and top front. Ekern said if they used a lift, they would have to close the entire front of the building off. Rare Pair owner Krin Finger said the scaffolding may be in place through July 4th.
LaCanne’s named Rice County’s 2019 Farm Family of the Year
Congratulations to Jeff and Lisa LaCanne as they have been named Rice County’s “2019 Farm Family of the Year” by the University of Minnesota. Jeff and Lisa started farming in 1986. In 1990, they purchased their home farm near Faribault, which consisted of 120 acres of corn and soybean and a few beef steers. They now run about 1,000 crop acres and a 50-head cow-calf operation with a finishing lot. The full press release is on kymnradio.net under our Community News page.