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Supervisors Abate Taxes, Lift Embargo On Road

By Staff | Jun 17, 2008

Palo Alto County Supervisors abated the back taxes on a parcel of land in Ayrshire on Tuesday that will lead to the cleanup of a dilapidated building in the community. Board members also approved lifting an embargo on a county road during their weekly session at the Palo Alto County Courthouse on June 10.
The Sacred Heart Parish in Ayrshire has purchased Catholic School building in Ayrshire, which has long been abandoned. The last classes graduated in 1968, and the structure was used occasionally for social gatherings into the 1980’s before last being used during the Ayrshire Centennial in 1982. Since that time, the structure has fallen into a state of major disrepair, with the roof collapsing onto the third floor, and eventually collapsing onto the second floor. It is the intent of the parish to demolish the three story brick structure, haul it way and clear the lot.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Palo Alto County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker presented the supervisors with a request to abate the outstanding back taxes on the property, which was formerly owned by Angela Loomis.
“The last time this property was offered on tax sale was in June of 1995 and there were no bidders at that time,” Hilfiker explained. “Since June of ’95, the county has held the tax certificate on the property, but did not want to take possession of the property due to the condition of the building.”
According to Hilfiker, the property had been sold to Sacred Heart Parish, but the back taxes, in the amount of $1,229, needed to be abated to clear the title on the property. Supervisor Ron Graettinger moved to abate the taxes, and the motion was carried unanimously.
In his weekly briefing for the board, Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz brought up the idea of lifting the current embargo on County Road N48, or the northern portion of Huron Street on the east side of Emmetsburg. The roadway was embargoed earlier this spring due to the potential for damage to the roadway from the unusually hard frost conditions that were causing numerous road boils and frost heaves. The embargo sent loads over six tons onto county gravel roads during the interim.
“I am going to recommend that we lift the embargo on North Huron temporarily, as we had projected doing back when we enacted the original embargo,” Fantz said. “We had talked about doing this once the planting season was done so that producers could haul their grain into town. “
Due to the excessive amounts of rain of late, some of the adjoining gravel roads have begun to deteriorate from the hauling, prompting the move, according to the engineer.
“We figured the majority of this summer grain movement would take about a month, so that is what we would propose for lifting the embargo,” Fantz said.
The board was in agreement with the engineer, who then addressed the subject of a request for some work on a private road at Fairview Beach on Lost Island Lake.
“I met with some of the residents out there and we looked at the location,” Fantz explained. “We’re talking about a small private road that does get a lot of use. We could certainly do the work they’re asking for on a reimbursable basis.”
“What are they asking for?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan.
“They’d like some grading, about four or five hours worth, and four or five loads of limestone rock,” Fantz replied. “But, I have to ask the question of where do you draw the line? Technically, they’re not a city, and we have helped cities out before. They are an association, so you could consider them a quasi-governmental agency.”
Fantz continued, “I’m a little concerned that when we as the county do work like this, we’re taking away from private contractors who could also do the work. It certainly won’t tax our system to do this work and I know it was said that maybe six or seven years ago that they asked us to take over that road, but it wasn’t wide enough to meet standards and they haven’t been able to obtain any additional land to widen the road, either.”
“If we’d take over that road, it would cost us a lot more money,” Noonan observed.
“Well, there are a number of people that live there, and they are paying for it, so I think we out to go ahead and do the work,” stated Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.
“I agree,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz spoke up.
On a motion by Noonan, the engineer was directed to set up the work and bill the Fairview Beach Association for the services and materials.
The supervisors also approved a pair of overhead utility construction permits for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative in Rush Lake Township sections 20, 28 and 33, along 420 Avenue and crossing 500 Street.