County tax forfeited property auction Thursday

St. Louis County will hold a live auction of more than 70 tax forfeited properties beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at the AAD Shriner’s Center in Hermantown.

Some of the parcels have had blighted buildings removed as part of the County’s efforts, in partnership with cities and townships, to spur economic development. A catalog with photos, maps and details about each property, including the starting bid price, can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/landsales or by calling the Land and Minerals Department at (218) 726-2606.

Registration is required for all bidders, and can be done online or by filling out a form, which is included in the catalog or is available at the auction. For convenience, pre-registration in advance of the auction is encouraged.

As a reminder, anyone bidding or purchasing at the auction cannot have any delinquent property taxes on parcels they already own in St. Louis County. People who have delinquent property taxes must first pay what they owe and provide proof before bidding or purchasing at the auction.

The tax forfeited land sale is the second of three to be held in 2017, with the final auction scheduled for October 12. Tax forfeited properties not sold at the auction will be available for purchase over-the-counter on a first come, first served basis. This now includes unsold lakeshore properties from the County’s former lakeshore lease program.

Within St. Louis County, there are nearly 900,000 acres of tax forfeited land, with the County’s Land and Minerals Department is responsible for managing. Most of the land is maintained for forest management, however, the County has been trying to sell smaller parcels located with cities and townships as a way to encourage development and increase the property tax base.

To learn more about the land sale, view parcels available for purchase at the auction or over-the-counter, or to subscribe to receive email notifications about future sales, visit stlouiscountymn.gov/landsales or call the Land and Minerals Department at (218) 726-2606.

Public meeting set to get input on stormwater programs

Have ideas on how to keep area water resources clean? A public meeting is set for Thursday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. at MnDOT headquarters, 1123 Mesaba Avenue in Duluth, to provide information on current efforts to prevent stormwater pollution and to get input on ways to improve those efforts.

Representatives from St. Louis County, City of Duluth, City of Hermantown, Lake Superior College, the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are all partnering to present this meeting. Refreshments will be available and attendees can register to win a rain barrel, which will be given away at the end of the meeting.

Based on a suggestion at a previous year’s meeting, city and county street sweepers are now decorated with stormwater messaging — a very low-cost way to educate the public about the importance of sweeping up salt and sand before it washes into Lake Superior. Read more.

St. Louis County Board approves agreement to make energy efficiency financing available

Business and property owners interested in making energy efficient improvements to their buildings now have a more affordable way to do so, following a vote by the St. Louis County Board. The County is now participating in the Property-Assessed Clean Energy program, a financing tool to help property owners with the initial costs of installing renewable energy technology.

PACE provides project financing to businesses, farms, multi-family housing and nonprofits in St. Louis County. The financing then can be repaid as a separate item on property tax assessments for a set period. In this way, PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

“St. Louis County continues to look for ways to assist our business community,” said County Board Chair Frank Jewell. “This program can help reduce operating expenses for them by helping them make energy-saving improvements to their buildings.”

Examples of potential building improvements that can be financed with PACE are solar arrays, HVAC upgrades, LED lighting, condensing boilers, digital controls, insulation, variable-frequency drive motors, building automation systems, and other water and energy conservation measures.

PACE financing is different than a traditional loan and helps building owners overcome several barriers to making energy-related building improvements. There are no upfront costs and there is less of a reliance on credit. Also, unlike a loan, when a transfer of ownership of the property takes place, the PACE assessment obligation stays with the property, not the property owner. In addition, PACE assessments can generally be repaid over longer terms than a bank might allow.

The St. Louis County Board unanimously approved a joint powers agreement with the Saint Paul Port Authority authorizing the new PACE program. The Saint Paul Port Authority provides the PACE funding and administers all aspects of the program. St. Louis County places the assessment on the property, collects payments each year, and passes money back to the Port Authority.

More information about the PACE program is available on the County’s website or at
cleanenergyresourceteams.org/pace.

Construction to temporarily close portion of Highway 7

Work to resurface seven miles of County State Aid Highway 7 begins Monday, and for the first two weeks of the project, the road will be closed to through traffic between Swan Lake Road (CSAH 47) in Alborn to CSAH 133 east of Meadowlands.

The entire reclaim and overlay project is expected to last through August. Beyond the initial work done during the first two weeks, the duration of the project can progress with lane closures. The road will be open, but motorists should expect delays.

During the closure, or to avoid the construction zone, motorists should use Highway 53 as a detour. Drivers are reminded to slow down and stay alert whenever traveling in or near a construction zone.

The project is estimated to cost $2.1 million, and is paid for by a combination of federal funds and Transportation Sales Tax revenue. Northland Constructors of Duluth is the contractor.