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County Assessor: Homestead forms flowing in

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners on Tuesday heard from County Assessor Mike Sheplee, who noted progress on updating the county’s homestead application files.

As part of a new policy, a letter was sent out in October to about 4,100 county residential taxpayers who did not have a homestead application on file, due to a misunderstanding in Sheplee’s office about how long to keep homestead applications. Those who do not return the form will see an effect on their 2020 property taxes.

“The process has been largely positive,” Sheplee said. “I have been able to see and interact with many dozens of taxpayers both in person and on the phone.

“After 14 business days, we’ve received 44 percent of the requests back. We started out with 4,100 and what we have left is 800 in the rural areas, 1,000 in Fairmont and 600 in the other small cities.

“We are preparing to incur some additional mailing costs for a final notice to be sent out on Nov. 15. If we receive them before then, we don’t have to create another letter and create more postage and use up more time.

“Another positive is that we’ve identified at least three dozen and counting of homesteads that should not be there because they no longer qualify for that.”

Sheplee provided one example of why it is important for property owners to fill out the mailed forms.

“I just did a quick calculation on a $150,000 home in Fairmont,” he said. “If those forms are not returned and it was a homestead and it will have to go non-homestead on Dec. 16, that’s $300 a year until they file the form with us.”

Turning to other business, commissioners set a public hearing date for revisions to the Planning and Zoning Office fee schedule. One potential revision is an increased cost from $125 to $175 for zoning permits for buildings. Commissioner Richard Koons noted his objection to that hike.

“I think it’s ludicrous that we get $125 for a building permit for a dog house and we get a $125 building permit for a $300,000 house,” he said. “That’s one that I think we should leave alone, I don’t think that a guy building a doghouse needs to pay $175.”

The date for the public hearing was set for 10 a.m. Dec. 3 in the commissioners meeting room at the courthouse.

In other action, the board:

o Approved a resolution for a conditional use permit in section 10 of Rutland Township. Verizon Wireless has proposed the installation of a new 259-foot self-support wireless communications tower with ancillary ground equipment.

o Approved a motion to authorize an agreement for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services for the city of Dunnell.

o Ratified the appointment of Randy Lubenow, representing the Fairmont City Council, to the Martin County Library Board, effective Jan. 1.

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