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Property tax costs rise in dispute in Renville County

OLIVIA -- Costs continue to mount in the ongoing litigation between Renville County and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, with no sign that a court ruling is imminent.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners at its work session Tuesday reviewed fees of $48,808 to their legal counsel, Briggs and Morgan of St. Paul. The board is expected to approve payment of the bill at the regular meeting coming up Tuesday.

With the recent billing, the county's legal costs in the dispute now total $1,107,217.91.

The recent billing led board chairman Ralph Novotny to ask whether the case was close to resolution, but the answer was not what he wanted to hear. County Attorney David Torgelson said District Judge Bruce Christopherson has requested an extension of time before issuing a ruling on the matter.

The two sides are in litigation over how the county determines the value of the cooperative's property and what should be considered real property for taxing purposes.

At stake in the dispute is more than $500,000 in property taxes the cooperative pays annually.