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Board of Commissioners announces plan for public hearing in early 2009 to review county's gravel tax

WILLMAR -- A public hearing early next year will help determine if Kandiyohi County should continue taxing gravel mined in the county.

The new tax was implemented just this year on a trial basis, with the commissioners agreeing to look at the results in two years.

But new legislative changes that affect how counties can tax gravel and distribute the revenue generated is prompting the commissioners to review the program a year earlier.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners agreed to gather additional information prior to the hearing about how much tax revenue was generated and how much flexibility counties have in distributing the funds.

County Public Works Director Gary Danielson said a hearing isn't needed to revoke the gravel tax but it would provide a good opportunity to hear from the affected parties, including gravel pit owners and townships.

Under the revised law, counties are allowed to charge a higher tax on the gravel, but the law limits which township can receive the revenue to repair roads. Under the old law, counties had discretion in how to allocate the revenue.

Under the new law, only townships where pits are located are eligible to receive revenue to repair roads. Several commissioners have said that's not fair because roads in other townships take a beating from gravel tru-cks even though pits aren't located there.

The new law also allows counties to collect a 5 percent administrative fee, which hadn't been part of the original law.

Danielson said by mid-January the final figures on gravel tax revenues will be completed and the commissioners can use that data, as well as ramifications of the changes, and "take a good hard look" at whether or not to continue the tax.

In other action Tuesday:

- The commissioners approved contracts between the county attorney's office and the cities of New London, Spicer and Raymond for prosecuting misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor cases at a rate of $112.50 an hour, which is a $10 increase.

- A resolution was approved supporting an extension of the Glacial Lakes State Trail from New London to Sibley State Park. A route hasn't been finalized for the trail, but County Road 40 is being considered.

- Commissioners agreed to revoke ownership of County Roads 124 and 125. The roads, which are in the Willmar city limits, will be taken over by the city. Agreements have been worked out between the city and county for repairs of the roads.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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