OLIVIA — Property taxpayers in Renville County have anted up despite the financial difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s not keeping the Renville County Board of Commissioners from taking a look at the county’s policy on forgiving late payment penalties with an eye toward possibly providing some relief.
Renville County had received a total of $19,585,385.13 in property tax payments by the end of the day Monday, Marc Iverson, auditor/treasurer, told the County Board of Commissioners at its work session Tuesday. He said the total is $4 million over what had been expected at this time.
He said some payments could still trickle in, as the property tax deadline was Friday, May 15. Payments with that postmarked date could still be on their way to his office.
Iverson said a total of roughly $15.5 million would represent one half of the total year’s property tax revenues. The current total of $19 million reflects the fact that some taxpayers have paid in full for the year, he told the commissioners.
The auditor/treasurer has not had an opportunity to determine the extent of any delinquent taxes in different property classifications.
The commissioners had previously decided to leave in place a policy that allows the auditor/treasurer to forgive the late payment penalty in specific situations, such as a death, illness or accident such as a destructive fire occurring within a few days of the due date. The policy does not allow the penalty to be abated for financial hardship.
In discussions Tuesday, the possibility of forgiving the late payment penalty for businesses financially distressed by the pandemic was raised. Commissioner Randy Kramer pointed out that neighboring Sibley County is among the counties that have taken that step.
Iverson said he would take a look at what other counties are doing and report to the commissioners at their next work session.
In a separate matter, the auditor/treasurer reported that the county is experiencing challenges in recruiting election judges. It’s become a widespread problem during the pandemic, and Iverson said he and other election officials have been pressing state legislators on the matter.
Four townships — Emmet, Norfolk, Hector and Winfield — along with the city of Danube, have all filed to conduct the November elections by mail ballot, Iverson reported. He said the Legislature has extended the time period for counties to process mail ballots from seven to 14 days preceding the election. It has also allowed counties to continue processing mail-in ballots for two days following the election. He said it means that it may not be possible to report the preliminary election results on the day of the election.
In a related matter, the auditor/treasurer told the commissioners that it cost roughly $50 per vote to hold the presidential nomination primary. The county submitted roughly $55,000 for reimbursement to the state of Minnesota for holding the primary in which 1,150 votes were cast. Some jurisdictions submitted their own requests for reimbursement, so the actual cost for the entire county may be larger, he said.
Also, the costs submitted by his office do not reflect any of his time or normal staff time allocated to the primary. The reimbursements are sought for overtime hours and other expenses believed to be eligible for reimbursement, he told the commissioners.