GRANITE FALLS -- After scrapping plans to build a new addition to the courthouse, Yellow Medicine County found its answer to space needs by buying used.
The county board of commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday to purchase the former Yellow Medicine County Bank on Eighth Avenue in Granite Falls. Fagen Engineering currently owns and has offices located in the building, but will be moving the staff to its main headquarters building.
The purchase price is $450,000, which compares to an estimated $1.3 million cost for the courthouse addition that was previously planned, according to Ryan Krosch, county administrator.
The closing is planned in November and the county anticipates moving into the building in early spring.
The county plans to move the finance and administration offices to the building, along with the property and public services offices. The latter include the assessor, recorder and auditor staff.
At the same time, the county will undertake remodeling in the courthouse building and move the county attorney's office into it. The county attorney currently rents office space in downtown Granite Falls. The move to the courthouse will allow the county to address security concerns for the attorney's office. It also places the attorney and staff in the same facility with county law enforcement, human and court services.
In other business, the commissioners approved a preliminary levy for 2013 that totals $8.6 million, a 6.25 percent increase.
Three factors are responsible for the majority of the increase, said Krosch. The county saw a large increase in health insurance costs. The county will see a significant reduction in program aids from the state. Rising farmland values means the county's tax capacity has risen. The state formula to distribute program aids takes into account the greater tax capacity.
Also, the county has seen a reduction in interest earnings.