Board approves Brown’s Creek Trail boundary

WashCo_logoCommissioners get legislative update from MICA chief

The Brown’s Creek State Trail right-of-way plat was unanimously approved by the Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

The DNR and county created a partnership to survey the former Minnesota Zephyr rail line corridor, which is being repurposed as Brown’s Creek State Trail. The 5.5 mile corridor is a key connection from the Gateway State Trail to the downtown Stillwater riverfront. The survey was needed to determine boundaries between the corridor and neighboring private properties. The survey also researched other concerns such as topography issues and gaps.

The DNR and county analyzed ownership, railroad maps, relevant surveys and plats, as well as located all visible boundary evidence. They searched for 123 property corner markers and found 95.

Once all available information was researched, the partnership created a boundary determination for the Brown’s Creek trail and surrounding properties. They set 81 new boundary monuments and approximately 100 DNR signs and posts. Once that was completed, a right-of-way plat was prepared.

During the presentation, District 1 Commissioner Fran Miron expressed concern about land disputes. County Surveyor Michael Welling acknowledged there is currently a dispute between one landowner and the DNR. He added that the DNR will be the agency to resolve this issue and the plat will not be affected.

Commissioners also received a legislative update from Minnesota Inter-County Association (MICA) Executive Director Keith Carlson.

Highlights of Carlson’s report included $2.1 billion in tax increases, with the majority of increases applied to individual income taxes, especially high income taxpayers and corporate taxes. The 2013 Legislative Session’s spending priorities were both k-12 and higher education and aid for property taxes.

Minnesota counties and cities will be exempt from the general sales tax beginning Jan. 1, but regional rail authorities, community development agencies and housing and redevelopment agencies are excluded from this exemption. The separate sales tax on vehicles is not included is this exemption.

“Generous” property tax refunds were approved for 2014, with the highest available refund to be $2,580, Carlson said. On a related note, there will be restrictive levy limits imposed in 2014, with the county’s estimated levy limit allowed up to a 1.2 percent increase. These levy limits will not apply to community development agencies or regional rail authorities.

The county’s program aid received a $40 million increase for 2014 and subsequent years, according to Carlson. However, this is a preliminary number and Carlson expects the amount to be higher once the final figures come in later this summer.

Carlson also told commissioners to expect a tough House and gubernatorial campaign in 2014.