Commissioners repeal county gravel tax measure

Revenue will still be collected under new state law

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

Washington County’s 30-year-old gravel tax ordinance was quietly repealed Tuesday by the Board of Commissioners in the wake of a state law that takes away the board’s discretion in disbursing revenue from the tax.

The county instead will follow state law in collecting the tax from aggregate haulers and disbursing the money generated by the tax.

Assistant County Administrator Kevin Corbid made it clear during a public hearing on the repeal that the county will continue collecting a gravel tax.

"We would repeal this ordinance. We’re not repealing the gravel tax," he said. "We will still collect the tax."

Corbid said administrators recommended that commissioners repeal the county gravel tax ordinance adopted in 1982 and implemented Jan. 1, 1983, because a new state law proscribes all aspects of gravel tax imposition, rate, collection, reporting and fines for late reporting.

In 2009, the gravel tax went from seven cents per ton to 15 cents per ton, according to Corbid. Of the tax revenue collected, 42.5 percent went to the town where the aggregate operation was based, 42.5 percent went to the county and 15 percent went to a pit reclamation fund, he said.

Corbid added that only cities with gravel operations could receive gravel tax revenue. Any cities where trucks only use city roads to haul aggregate are not eligible to receive gravel tax funds.

"You only got a portion of the gravel tax if you a mine in your community," Corbid said. "There’s no compensation for a city or community that doesn’t have a pit or loads are hauled on their roads."

In other actions, commissioners:

n Met as the Board of Appeals and Equalization for a second meeting to respond to property owners’ requests for valuation reviews.

Board members and Corbid, acting as county Auditor-Assessor, discussed and acted on each appeal and approved maintenance changes. Maintenance changes are value changes agreed to by the assessor’s office and property owner prior to the June 12 Board of Appeal hearing.

State law directs the Board of Appeal to examine and equalize county property assessments. The board can raise and lower property values and change property classifications.

n Agreed to the county’s participation in the 2012 Performance Measurement Program and report on 10 standard measures created by the Council on Local Results and Innovation.

Participation in the council program is voluntary, but a county taking part can be eligible for a reimbursement of 14 cents per capita in county program aid not exceeding $25,000. The county could also have been exempt from levy limits for taxes payable in 2013 had the legislature imposed those limits.

This year’s requirements include a report with results of the 10 adopted measures available to residents at the end of the year and a commitment to survey residents by the end of the year on the quality of county parks and facilities.

The county has been measuring performance since the late 1990s and releases its 13th annual comprehensive performance measures and indicators June 26.

The state legislature created the Council on Local Results and Innovation in 2010. The council then created 10 measures each for cities and counties.