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County to consider purchase of Bauer, Miller parcels

County to consider purchase of Bauer, Miller parcels County to consider purchase of Bauer, Miller parcels

Calling it likely the last opportunity to do so, members of the Taylor County building and grounds committee on May 7 voted in favor of the county purchasing the Bauer and Miller properties adjacent to the Taylor County Fairgrounds in Medford.

The committee’s votes will start the ball rolling with the requests next going to the county finance committee and then on to the full county board.

Buildings and Ground supervisor Jeff Ludwig presented the purchases at two separate resolutions. The first calls for the county to purchase the 8.14 acre Bauer property for $300,000.The second calls for the purchase of the 24.31 acre Harold Miller property.

The Bauer parcel includes a number of outbuildings that Ludwig said would be immediately useful to the county. He presented letters to the committee from highway commission Ben Stanfley, county conservationist Brent Tessmer, and sheriff Larry Woebbeking in support of the purchases, specifically for the Bauer property.

“[T]he purchase of this property would be a worthwhile investment. It will give the highway department more room for material storage and plenty of storage space that other departments are currently in need of. Above all it will give us the options we desperately need when the time comes for an expansion or replacement of the highway shop in Medford,” Stanfley wrote.

Tessmer stated that the space and storage buildings would be beneficial to store the equipment the land conservation department owns that is rented to area farmers and property owners. This included two no-till drills and a tree planter. The combined value of this equipment is about $49,000 and the equipment is currently stored outside by the the land conservation offices.

Woebbeking expressed a need for additional evidence storage. He noted the existing fenced area by the maintenance shop at the fairgrounds is small and is often full requiring tow trucks to be hired to move items as they are needed for evidence in pending cases. He said there is also need for storage of the county SWAT response vehicle and they have secure evidence storage needs for long-term cases.

“I do have concerns about our limited garage space and more specifically, the way we have had to use areas designed for evidence that were never intended for general use,” he wrote.

Ludwig supported purchasing the property for those reasons because, if the county doesn’t, there will be someone at a county board in the future who will stand up and say they regretted the county not purchasing them when it had the chance.

Of the two parcels, Ludwig said the Bauer property had the most immediate use with the existing storage buildings. He said the long-term use of the Miller property would lend itself more to development of campgrounds to serve the fairgrounds and for recreational use with the majority of the parcel having Correction Creek running through it.

“When is a good time to spend $465,000? There is never a good time to spend $465,000,” Ludwig said. However, he said he throught it would be a wise investment for the county to purchase these properties at this time.

County finance director Larry Brandl agreed with the benefit of purchasing the parcels. “This is probably the last opportunity to buy either one of these,” he said. He noted that with the county debt levels low, the purchase would be initially funded through existing reserves and then rolled into a debt service issue at a later date while keeping the tax rate flat.

“It is probably as good an opportunity as we will have,” Brandl said.

Committee members voted in favor of the county purchasing the two parcels.

In other business, committee members:

_ Received an update on the 2020 season at Per- kinstown Winter Sports Area. The area saw $29,206 in tubing revenue and $12,506.75 in food sales. After sales taxes were paid, the total net revenue for the season was $39,666.14 up $17,000 from last year and nearly $6,000 above the 2017-2018 season. “We did a lot better than our average year,” Ludwig said. He said after labor costs were taken out, the net surplus was $2,161.39 and that they were looking at ways to streamline the staffing, noting there were times when they were overstaffed. The winter sports area is run as a profit generator for the county, but instead considered a service to county residents and visitors with the revenue generated helping to offset upkeep of the facility.

_ Discussed the logging that took place near Camp 8, specifically around the campground. Ludwig said he didn’t have advanced notice that the logging in the campground was going to be taking place and only learned about it when it was done. He said he would hope the forestry department would contact buildings and grounds if there were future logging projects at county campgrounds.

_ Approved having the buildings and grounds department maintain a property and home purchased by the county in the Rib Lake area to provide a residence for an offender being released in the area. The individual will have restrictions keeping him confined to the home. The state is paying the county about $2,000 per month for the housing cost plus utilities, this includes the upkeep of the structure and property.