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Courthouse parking lot comes in under budget

Sealed bids brought good news for Davison County regarding the new courthouse parking lot.

The construction project came in under budget Tuesday during the commission's regular meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell.

The bids awarded during the meeting totaled $21,494, which is under the $30,000 price that county Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml had budgeted for a new parking lot.

The new lot would have 14 spaces and would be located on the northeast side of the courthouse block, near the corner of East Fifth Avenue and North Kimball Street, with driveway access off of Kimball.

Ruml figures the county has 10 vehicles typically parked in its current lot on the southeast part of the courthouse block. Those would be moved to the new lot -- which would be 74 feet by 63.5 feet in size -- north of the existing lot.

The existing lot would then be available for customers and visitors and provide easier access for those with mobility problems to the accessible entrance to the courthouse.

Bids were awarded to Clark Paving for $7,439 for the lot's concrete work, while Commercial Asphalt was awarded the bid for the lot's prep and finish for $12,605. Brian Winter was awarded the tree removal job for $1,250 and the parking lot markings bid went to Schoenfelder Construction for $200.

"This will be a good asset to our courthouse, for sure," Ruml said.

Three trees on the courthouse lawn would have to be removed as part of the new lot construction. The commissioners indicated in previous meetings that they would be okay with the removal of trees because the county makes a conscious effort to replace trees.

Discussion was held regarding the parking in front of the courthouse and whether or not the parking needs to be more closely regulated. Ruml and other commissioners said he didn't think the parking was being abused, but Commission Chairman John Claggett said it is an area that he wants to continue watching and hopes to "push" to avoid courthouse customers taking advantage of the timed parking areas.

Equalization season starts

Meeting as the Board of Equalization and following through on the recommendations of Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch, the commissioners approved property tax exemptions for paraplegic homeowners, disabled veterans and renewable-energy-qualifying property owners. The board approved 123 of 137 tax freeze applications for those who qualified for the elderly and disabled tax freeze option.

Additional properties are under review and will be taken up at the April 8 meeting.

Four properties were denied their tax exempt status due to their change in status:

• The property previously operated by Camp Arroya Inc., is now under the city of Mitchell's tax exempt status. Located on the north side of Lake Mitchell, Camp Arroya's 25-year lease with the city expired at the end of 2013 and the city will operate the property.

• A lot at 192 Cree Street, formerly used by Mitchell Regional Habitat for Humanity was denied its tax exempt status because the property has gone back to a private owner.

• A lot 5-A owned by Avera in the Cabela's First Addition, west of Farm Credit Services of America's offices, was denied tax-exempt status due to it being bare, unused land with no current purpose.

• A property owned by Faith Home and School at 938 E. Sixth Ave. was previously occupied by a disabled employee. The tax-exempt status was denied because that occupant no longer lives there.

In addition, the Consolidated Board of Equalization, consisting of city, county and school board representatives, met Tuesday night and was expected to hear 10 appeals, mostly from Mitchell city residents.

Other business:

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved, meeting as the Board of Adjustment, a variance request from Loren and Julie Van Overschelde in Section 1 of Badger Township to adjust two tracts on their land, with the plat to be considered April 15.

• Heard the quarterly welfare report from Welfare Department Director Dawn Grissom, who said the 95 welfare requests in the first quarter of 2014 were up over the last few years, when the county saw 70 to 75 requests annually.

• Approved the hire of Kelly Brown, who will work temporarily in the auditor's and treasurer's offices for the next three months at $12 per hour.

• Approved outstanding bills, and corrected and approved prior minutes and the auditor/treasurer report.