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Hardwick proposes county's first rural service district

Public hearing scheduled for Sept. 18
Mavis Fodness

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18, to establish two separate tax districts in the city of Hardwick.
The 7 p.m. hearing allows public input into the city’s phase-in plan to place 10 identified parcels now included in the city limits of Hardwick into a separate rural service district and an urban service district.
The move would lower property taxes on the parcels included in the rural district by 50 to 75 percent.
The parcels are primarily farmland and not developed for residential or commercial purposes. They are also not connected to municipal services such as water and sewer.
Hardwick is a town of 222 residents and consists of 1,100 acres, 997 of which are classified as agricultural.
For decades the 10 properties within the Hardwick city limits paid 100 percent of the city’s annual levy, the same as city residences, although the property was used for crop or livestock production.
With the reduction, the rural service levy would be more in line with township levels on similar use properties.
Affected rural property owners requested city officials to look at developing a rural service district. Rural property owners could go through a legal process to detach from the city and pay no levy to the city of Hardwick.
To compensate for the potential loss of $26,087 with the reduction of property taxes to the 10 rural parcels, city officials are looking to raise the 2020 tax levy for properties in the urban service district.
Council members and city attorney Don Klosterbuer met with affected property owners and examined each parcel. A “benefit ratio” or a percentage of services the property owners receive from the city determined the possible reduction.
The parcels are currently taxed as if receiving 100 percent of city services.
If approved for the rural service district, parcels will be reviewed each year to determine if any changes have occurred.
Written comments can be sent to the Hardwick city clerk, P.O. Box 31, Hardwick, MN 56134.
The Sept. 18 public hearing will take place in the Hardwick City Hall located on Main Street.

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