County ag land values: Going up?


by Sarah Squires

Ag land in Winona County may be becoming more valuable, if recent observations made by County Auditor Bob Bambenek ring true.

Bambenek told the County Board Tuesday about some recently auctioned parcels of land in Saratoga Township, some sold for as much as $5,040 an acre.

"[This is] clearly, a benchmark sale for Winona County good, tillable land," said Bambenek during the meeting.

He told the board that three parcels of mostly tillable agricultural land were sold, along with one smaller plot set as a building site. All in all, over 300 acres of land were sold, ranging in value between $4,410 and $5,040 per acre.

Bambenek said that the Dover Town Hall auction drew a crowd of about 150, including contractors from neighboring counties. He said that the price and the interest indicated that Winona County's agricultural land might not be "softening" in price as some have worried.

Board chair Dwayne Voegeli said that he could remember ag land going for about $3,000 an acre during the first township meeting he ever went to . "It will be interesting to see if this is indeed a benchmark," he said.

2006 State Audit

Board members also heard a review of the required 2006 state audit from Carla Blahnik of the Southeastern Minnesota office of the state auditor.

Blahnik told the board it ought to be proud to see that there were no formal findings or write-ups in the year's management, and reported that all of the county's major funds saw balance increases over the previous year.

"This is the first time I can recall having no write-ups," said County Administrator Robert Reinert.

Other business

Other items at the County Board meeting included:

"The board heard a review of two surveys relating to secondhand smoke on Winona County residents and bar and restaurant owners by Community Health Services staff and WSU public health students. Although the survey results and any potential restrictive ordinance was not discussed by the board, Voegeli indicated that such an ordinance wasn't going to go before the board anytime soon.

"The board heard an update on 2007 budget planning, which is being worked on by the county's Budget Committee.

"The board heard a tentative request during its Committee of the Board meeting for assistance in building a new Winona County Fair office.


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