Thursday, November 04, 2010

St. Louis County Board orders study on private-to-public land sales

The St. Louis County Board has ordered a study of possible policies to keep additional private land from falling into public ownership. The board gave final approval Tuesday, without much debate, to a resolution requiring Administrator Kevin Gray to create a task force to study the pros and cons of a “no net loss of private land policy’’ and report back to the board by July 1. The study was proposed by Commissioner Dennis Fink of Duluth, who has for years battled against conversion of private land on the tax rolls to public ownership — such as in state parks, forests, public hunting areas and tribal reservation land. The County Board has had an informal policy against additional public lands for years. Because the county already is 63 percent publicly owned, Fink and others say the conversion of any more private land to public, tax-exempt status puts too much property tax burden on remaining landowners. “That percentage keeps going up. We’re going the wrong way. It’s to the point where we are having difficulty finding good available land for economic development in this county,” Fink said...more

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