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Washington County includes tax breaks among legislative priorities

Washington County officials began laying out their legislative agenda for next year at a workshop last week, and they’ve added new issues while bringing back some priorities from last year.

The following are some of the items discussed Tuesday, Oct.1: 

Secure additional economic development funding

Washington County is interested in working with other local governments and the Legislature  to obtain tax breaks for businesses that would like to expand, and provide breaks in income tax, property tax and sales tax to others. This program follows similar ones that have been successful in greater Minnesota, Washington County deputy administrator Kevin Corbid said.

“The key is to make enough noise, get enough people so they can pay attention,” lobbyist John Kaul added.

Community corrections

The department currently receives 27 percent of its funding from the state, while other partnerships around the state get 70 percent, department supervisor Tom Adkins said.

County officials say with the significant population growth, Washington County ought to receive the same ratio as its counterparts.

Clean water funding to replace aging septic systems

The county will continue to seek additional funding to continue a program it started this year to assist local residents in getting their old septic systems replaced.

Early voting

Washington County staff say it’s time to change the process to streamline and avoid errors by using automated machines for those voting 30 days or less before the election.

However, Commissioner Autumn Lehrke said she’s opposed to early voting in general since it’s another unfunded mandate. Without voter identification regulations, she said early voting opens up a “big can of worms.”

But Jennifer Wagenius, director of property records and taxpayer services, said funding for new technology would simplify the process and catch errors. Voters would fill out a ballot and feed into a machine as opposed to the current system where machines aren’t used for early voting.

Since voter identification and early voting is a controversial subject, county officials decided to further discuss it as a separate item.

The County Board was set to discuss additional legislative agenda items this week.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.