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Martin County Data Practices

The Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13) presumes that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says the data are not public. Government data is a term that means all recorded information a government entity has, including paper, email, CD-ROMs, photographs, etc.

The Data Practices Act also provides that Martin County must keep all government data in a way that makes it easy for you, as a member of the public, to access public data. You have the right to look at (inspect), free of charge, all public data that we keep. You also have the right to get copies of public data. The Data Practices Act allows us to charge for copies. You have the right to look at data, free of charge, before deciding to request copies.

If you are interested in making a request for information please review the policy below.

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Martin County Planning & Zoning office

Spring is in full swing in the Martin County Planning & Zoning office.  It seems that we are even ahead of schedule from last year with building permits and new feedlot permits.  But one thing that often gets over looked is your septic system.  Proper operation and maintenance of your septic system can have a huge impact on how well the system works and how long it will last.

Why maintain your system?  The cost of replacing your septic system continues to rise and can be very expensive to replace. The MPCA recommends that you pump you septic tank once every three years.  This helps with the accumulation of solids in your tank and keeps the solids from getting into and plugging up your drainfield.

Some other things to remember if you have a septic system treating your wastewater is to be careful on the amount of chemicals that you use.  Too many chemicals in your system can kill off the good bacteria that work to decompose the solids in the tank.  Another thing to caution is the advertised septic additives. Whether the additive is biological or chemical most experts will agree that they are unnecessary. There currently is not a product on the market that will help your septic system.

Finally, dont forget the overall reason to keep you septic system working properly, to protect the economic health of the community.  A failed septic system can contribute to the pollution of local rivers, lakes and groundwater.  Any contact with untreated human waste can pose significant health ricks.

For more information about septic systems contact the Planning & Zoning Office at 238-3242.

Submitted by: Wendy Chirpich Zoning Technician

Martin County Assessor

Spring is Property Tax Time For County Property Owners

Martin County residents have probably noticed a change in how they have been receiving their Property Tax Statements from the treasurer's office and their Estimate of Market Value Notices from the assessor's office for the past 2 years. In a cost saving effort Martin County has been sending both of these notices together in one envelope but they remain two separate documents doing two different things. The Tax Statement is a bill which is payable, in most cases, in two payments due May 15th and Oct. 15th for residential and commercial property or May 15th and Nov. 15th for agricultural property. These bills were developed and finalized through the 2011 tax year process.

The Estimate of Market Value Notices from the assessor's office is the beginning of the 2012 process to determine the taxes which will be payable in 2013. Values listed on the 2013 Estimate of Market Value Notices are based on the sales of properties in the county from Oct 1, 2010 through Sept 30, 2011. Sales activity in Martin County during this period has continued to be low in the number of sales compared to past years but generally have showed level or slightly declining sales prices in the area. The glaring exception to that rule is the agricultural land market. Once again we had over 30 arms length ag sales during this sales period and sales prices indicated value has increased between 35% and 50% in the past year.  

SOME PERTINENT TAX FACTS: Property tax is determined by three factors; the amount of money spent by local taxing jurisdictions (consisting mainly of the school district, your city or township and the county), the taxable market value of the property and the property class.  The time to appeal your property class or market value is in the spring at the Local Board of Review and County Board of Equalization.  The time to have a voice in government spending decisions is in the fall at the Truth in Taxation meetings when budget amounts are set.  Truth in Taxation meetings are held before the next year's property tax is finalized giving you the opportunity to be heard before the budget is finalized. The decisions made by your local units of government directly affect the property tax you will pay. Furthermore in 2011 there was a change in how property taxes are calculated in 2012 and thereafter which caused a significant shift in the tax burden. Approximately $261 million dollars of state reimbursements to local governments were eliminated so these monies now must be made up through property tax assessments on local properties.

Homes valued up to $414,000 and farms valued up to $1.2 million continue to receive homestead benefits when a home or farm is occupied or managed by the owner or a qualifying relative. A qualifying relative for homestead purposes depends on the type of property. For residential property, a qualifying relative can be a parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the owner. This relationship may be by blood or marriage. For agricultural property, a qualifying relative can be a child, grandchild, sibling or parent of the owner or of the spouse of the owner.

When it comes to the assessor's job it is actually narrower than most taxpayers believe.  Assessors don't decide how much tax is to be paid and they don't establish tax rates.  Their task is to estimate, as accurately as possible, the fair market value of each property in the county.  Estimated Market Value represents the assessor's estimate of your property's actual market value and market value is defined as the most probable price that a well informed buyer would pay a well informed seller for a property without either party being unduly forced to buy or sell.  In other words, what the property would likely sell for if it were to be sold in an arm's length transaction. Assessors estimate the market value of a property, that is, the price most people would pay for it as of the assessment date, January 2, each year. The best indicator of market value is market activity and so buyers and sellers create market value by their transactions. The assessor's office staff carefully examines all sales each year, qualifies or disqualifies the sales, and adjusts the sales price for special circumstances that might decrease or inflate the sales price.  An owner in a hurry to sell might sell for less, if the seller includes substantial personal property in the sale, provides discounted financing, the parties are related to each other or any one of a number of other reasons, it would likely affect the price of the sale and so disqualify that sale from being included in the analysis.  Although the sales comparison approach is only one of three different approaches to valuation used (cost and income approaches are two others) comparable sales are recognized by the courts as the best evidence of market value for residential properties.

In addition the assessor's office maintains information about every piece of property in the county to assist in making their estimates of value each year. The staff of the assessor's office, or a local assessor hired by your township, reviews the information for each property in the county at least once every 5 years to ensure accuracy.  This allows accurately comparing all unsold properties to a property that recently sold to help establish an estimate of fair market value price.

In the event a person disagrees with the assessors estimated market value the best thing to do is call the office to ensure all information is correct and you understand how the estimate was arrived at. If you still feel the estimate is incorrect and would like to appeal, remember the best evidence of market values is sale price - the price of the subject property or of a similar property called a comparable. But keep in mind a sale price is not necessarily the same as fair market value depending on the circumstances.  Residential taxpayers who appeal successfully usually do so by finding comparable properties that have recently sold (in an arm's length transaction) for less than the assessed values so a successful taxpayer appeal will require the taxpayer to demonstrate the assessed value is incorrect by offering examples of sales of similar property that sold for less. The law requires the valuation established by the assessor is presumed correct unless evidence is provided to the contrary. Information regarding values is available on the county website at  or as always the office is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to answer any questions or you may call 507-238-3210.

Martin County Probation Department

Over 400 Second Chances

"Did you have enough money with you when you stole the make up?" "Did your parents know where you were when this happened?" These are just a few of the questions that you may hear teens asking their peers during a typical session of the Martin County Teen Court. Teen Court is one of the programs offered through Martin County Youth Intervention and Prevention Programs, part of the Martin County Probation Department. The Teen Court which offers first-time juvenile offenders the option of avoiding the Court system and keeping low-level offenses off their records has been around since 1998. Over 400 juveniles have participated since the program began. Most no longer have future legal trouble after appearing in Teen Court.

 Around thirty teen jurors from through out Martin County volunteer their time each month to serve as jury members for their peers. These volunteers participate in training on how to question defendants, confidentiality, and court room process. Jury members ask questions of both the defendant and his or her parent. Following a period of questioning, jurors deliberate in private and come up with an appropriate consequence for the teen. Consequences imposed recently have included: community service/STS, essays, apology letters, classes, and service on the Teen Court jury. Teen court jury members do not decide guilt or innocence. Participants must admit guilt prior to participating in the program. Once conditions are completed and the youth has had no additional citations for six month, the charge will be off her record.

 Forty cases were referred to the Teen Court in 2011. Cases involved incidents of: Minor in Consumption, Shoplifting, Property Damage, Tobacco Violations, Disorderly Conduct, and Park Ordinance Violations. The Martin County Teen Court only accepts some petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor offenses.

 If you or a teen you know is interested in serving on the Martin County Teen Court Jury, please contacted Autumn Larsen, YIP Coordinator, at 507-238-3215.


(St. Paul, MN) - Martin County's IGNITE Program was honored by the Minnesota Association of Professional County Economic Developers (MAPCED) during the Association of Minnesota Counties' (AMC) Annual Conference December 5 in Minneapolis.  The purpose of the award is to recognize and celebrate successful economic development efforts and partnerships that fulfill the MAPCED mission of fostering economic growth expanding tax base and enhancing quality of life in Minnesota counties.

Serving as the fuel of an economy, entrepreneurs and small businesses will perpetually exist. Consequently, it is imperative to provide them with the one-on-one support, inspiration, and resources they need to build their business and flourish. Recognizing the importance, in 2007, the Martin County Board of Commissioners along with the Martin County EDA (MCEDA) set its vision in motion to implement a business facilitation program to assist entrepreneurs and small business in getting their inventions, products, or services to the next level. MCEDA partnered with the Riverbend Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation (RCEF) to launch an economic development initiative in Martin County called IGNITE.With the mission to Inspire Growth and Nurture Innovative Talent through Empowerment the program strives to grow, strengthen, and develop new and existing businesses and create jobs. The program achieves this by providing entrepreneurs and businesses with free and confidential technical assistance to start or grow their business.

The program has been a tremendous asset for both entrepreneurs and small businesses in Martin County. Since its inception in 2007, IGNITE Business Facilitators have provided professional guidance to 155 clients ranging from individuals  with a business idea to $5 million dollar corporations expanding their operations. They effectively helped start 56, stabilize 37, and expand 30 businesses, resulting in the preservation or creation of 124 jobs within the 10 communities of Martin County. In 2010, the programs cost per job created or maintained was a mere $616. IGNITE has hosted or participated in 16 community development events and projects. Some of which include Minnesota Marketplace for Entrepreneurs, Core Four Business Planning Course, and Area Career Exploration (ACE).

The program has served as a keystone for the county's natural resource growth and sustainability. Year after year, the program has produced exceptional results and has served as a catalyst in sustaining and growing the economic  vitality of the communities in Martin County. This unique model can be imitated by other counties and economic development authorities to stimulate community development at a very low cost.

Martin County Recorder's Office

The Martin County Recorder's Office was one of the first three offices created when the county was initially organized in 1857 by the county commissioners. The offices were the register of deeds, changed to recorder in the 1970's; the sheriff; and the treasurer.  

The purpose of establishing a land records office quickly in 1857 is the same reason it is essential today. As real estate documents are recorded they become notification to the public showing ownership and encumbrances on the real estate. Property ownership creates collateral and capital for investment in business ventures, farming operations, and loans. It is the checks and balance in our government system providing us with an open and transparent land records system for everyone to examine.

 The recorder's office is in the original office space designed for it in the courthouse. Several original office fixtures are still used today, but internally technology has lead to electronic recording and searching of all real estate records. Document submitters can now eRecord in minutes and do online searches for land records from 1857 to the moment their documents are recorded.   

Vital record services were added to the recorder's office in 1989. Birth and death certificates from any county in Minnesota are available with only a few minutes of processing time. Marriage license applications are taken in the office and will soon be available online. Martin County marriage certificates also only take a few minutes to process. Passport applications and services will continue to be maintained and submitted through the recorder's office.

More services are being added to the office as technology has advanced. Check out the Minnesota Official Marriage Systems (MOMS) to search for locations of marriage records throughout Minnesota. This is a free service provided by the state's county recorders.

Ask about Property Fraud Alert and register at It is a free service provided by the Martin County Recorder's Office.


September 2011
Martin County Column
Martin County Library
By Jenny Trushenski, Library Director
For many of us, September signifies the beginning of a new school year.  For public libraries across the United States, September is "Library Card Month."  A library card is just as important as those new notebooks and crayons for school.  Open the world of lifelong literacy for your children (and yourself) by getting your free library card today.  Need further persuasion?  Listed below are 52 ways to use your library card.  (One for each week of the year!)
1. See a free movie. 2. Download an e-book. 3. Update your Facebook page. 4. Learn about job seeking resources. 5. Find a list of childcare centers in your area. 6. Learn about local candidates for office.  7. Pick up voter registration information.  8. Check out your favorite graphic novel. 9. Pick up a DVD. 10. Get free wireless access. 11. Stage a puppet show. 12. Find templates and ideas to improve your resume. 13. Get new ideas for redecorating your house. 14. Attend a workshop. 15. See our library pets. 16. Hear a local author reading his/her latest novel. 17. Book a meeting room for your club or community organization. 18. Attend preschool story hour with your child. 19. Get help with homework. 20. Look up all kinds of health information. 21. Start a parents and teens book club. 22. Trek to another planet in a Sci-Fi novel. 23. Teach yourself to cook a new cuisine. 24. Research your term paper. 25. Learn about the history or your city or town. 26. Decide which computer to buy using a consumer guide. 27. Explore new opportunities and research technical schools, community colleges and universities. 28. Borrow or download an audiobook for your next road trip or commute. 29. Use the library's resources to start a small business.  30. See art. 31. Volunteer.  32. Broaden your world by checking out books about other cultures. 33. Ask for a recommended reading list. 34. Learn a new language with books or CDs. 35. Get a book from interlibrary loan. 36. Enroll your child in a summer reading program. 37. Take a computer class. 38. Find a new hobby. 39. Take out the latest fashion magazine. 40. Enjoy a variety of music CDs. 41. Trace your family tree. 42. Find out the value of your collectibles.  43. Investigate a legal questioner issue. 44. Follow your friends on Twitter. 45. Learn about home improvement. 46. Borrow some sheet music. 47. Read up on how to use your new digital device. 48. Get involved - join you library's Friends group or teen advisory board. 49. Pick up tax forms.  50. Connect with other people in the community. 51. Find a quiet spot, curl up with a book and enjoy. 52. Check out a fitness DVD and work out.