Commission lends more aid to Taopi residents

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to a pair of incentives that will go toward helping the citizens of Taopi rebuild following this past April’s EF2 tornado, which took much of the community.

The help comes in the form of a local option tax abatement and tax credit that will be applied to taxes this year and the following year respectively. Both the abatement and the credit come in at $6,700 total for each and can only be applied for by landowners that sustained 50% or more in damages. That encompasses 19 properties in Taopi and Lodi Township.

The county, in turn, will apply to the State of Minnesota to be declared a disaster zone, meaning that the county would be reimbursed for the abatement and the credit.

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And if the state makes the declaration, County Assessor Candy Lahann said that it might open up the door for the county to help residents that sustained under that 50% threshold more.

Health and Human services to start receiving funds

In a meeting of the Health and Human Services Board during that same meeting Tuesday, Director Crystal Peterson reported to the board that Health and Human Services will begin seeing money stemming from a litigation settlement involving pharmaceutical companies.

In total, the state received $303 million, and Mower is earmarked to receive $1.2 million of that amount, which must be spent over an 18-year period.

Peterson said the first payment, which is coming in the next couple weeks, will be around $42,000 with Administrator Trish Harren adding that subsequent payments will average around $25,000.

Money can be rolled over after each year, so long as it’s allocated within that 18-year period.

Peterson also said that there are some requirements on how the money can be spent, with the state also pushing that law enforcement agencies be involved.

There are three ways the money can be spent: Treatment, prevention and education, support, training and research.

Peterson said the next steps will include working to figure out who will be involved with the effort to allocate the funds as well as “what kind of data do we have in our hands to drive our decisions,” Peterson said.

In other news:

• The county has now received all of its payments from the American Rescue Plan Act according to Harren Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, Harren said the county has received $7.781 million with $6.4 million committed and another $1.3 million left to be doled out.

• The county has set a date and time for its annual budget and levy public hearing. The hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12. The move comes after the county approved a preliminary levy increase of 1.9%. The budget is currently set at $63 million with $23 million coming from the levy. Another $500,000 will be paid for by ARPA funds.