The country may still be experiencing economic problems, but Sherburne County taxpayers are coming through with their highest percentage of property tax payments in years. A report released this week by the auditor/treasurer’s office shows property owners paid $40,972,030.91 of the $41,759,863.50 levied, or 98.11% of property taxes last year. The dollar total was the highest amount ever collected in the same tax year and eclipsed the 2011 mark of $38,750,394.87 when taxpayers paid 97.59% of the tax levy. The numbers for the previous five years have been: 2010 96.70%; 2009 96.48%; 2008 96.90%; 2007 96.83% and 2006 97.68%. Last year, Auditor/ Treasurer Diane Arnold said one reason the percentage might not reflect the poor economy was that banks were paying real estate taxes on foreclosed properties. That still holds true, as Sherburne County still has its fair share of foreclosures. Property owners also paid $880,895.43 in back taxes last year. In 2012, the county received $479,410.94 for 2011 and $184,827.07 for 2010 taxes. Employee Awards Tuesday, the county commissioners recognized some of the top county employees during the annual employee awards ceremony. The following awards were voted on by employees’ peers and presented during Tuesday’s board meeting: Team Player Award – Michael Benson; Performance Award – Roxanne Schreder; Customer Service Award – Public Works Drivers and Mechanics Team; Rookie Award – Lindsey Thompson; Life Saving Award – Jason Volkers; Excellence in Supervision or Management Award – Jodi Heurung. Other Business In other action the board: * Approved the transfer of $176,283 from the Recorder’s Technology Fund to Information Services Technology for hardware, software and yearly maintenance for land-related projects; * Approved a contract with Capitol Connections to provide legislative lobbying services related to NorthStar Commuter Rail for the 2013 Legislative Session; * Authorized a payment of $8,094 to Sherburne Soil & Water from a block grant from the state; * Authorized the auditor/treasurer’s office to make preparations for a Tax Forfeited Land Sale, date to be determined at a later time; * Approved a property tax abatement of $564.68 for James Rude for a fire that damaged his house on 261st Ave. in Big Lake Twp. in 2011; * Approved a property tax abatement of $352 for Jennifer Hoff after a re-classification of her property on Lee Street in Big Lake; * Tabled a decision on amending an agreement with Great River Energy to accept waste from Randy’s Sanitation at a reduced rate. * Approved the repayment of $52,489.76 from the Ditch Fund to the General Fund.