County Board holds first meeting of the year, Bakke named chairman

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPER GROUP

The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners got 2019 off to a good start by welcoming two of its members back to the boardroom. Coordinator and clerk of the board Bobbie Vickerman called the meeting to order, after which Judge Matt Opat swore in commissioners Duane Bakke and Randy Dahl. Following the oath of office being administered, the board elected Bakke as chairman and Commissioner Marc Prestby as vice chairman.

Vickerman’s agenda was long, including a resolution to dedicate a portion of tax forfeiture receipts to county parks, setting the 2019 regular County Board meeting day and time as the first, second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 9 a.m. at the courthouse and setting the board of appeal and equalization and truth in taxation hearings.

The agenda also included consideration of elected officials’ salaries; adoption of the Memorial Day resolution that reimburses expenses for veteran organization ceremonies; authorizing elected officials, department heads and division leaders’ overnight stays to attend their respective annual professional conferences and granting county payment for flu shots for county employees to be provided as an employee benefit that will be administered or withheld depending on qualifications in the event of a flu shot shortage.

The Board also approved leadership training opportunities for Vickerman to continue her education.

The Board set the sheriff’s salary at $103,500, the auditor-treasurer’s salary at $77,500, the recorder’s salary at $71,600 and the county attorney’s pay at $113,760.19.

New sheriff

Sheriff John DeGeorge presented the 2019 chief deputy contract and salary – introducing Lance Boyum as the county’s new chief deputy and listing Boyum’s accomplishments. DeGeorge also noted Phil Whitacre has been appointed to the position of captain.

The Board set Boyum’s salary at $83,237.15, the amount allotted in the 2019 budget, and thanked DeGeorge for bringing Boyum and Whitacre before them to be properly introduced. Even though both men live in Fillmore County, they may not necessarily be well known to each of the commissioners because they live in a different part of the county.

DeGeorge also asked that the Board approve a resolution for signatures for the jail canteen account that allows inmates to purchase items from the jail’s snack cart.

Personnel issues

Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn requested permission to hire a replacement maintenance specialist, effective Jan. 9, to extend the 2018 non-union pay chart and the 2018 merit pay chart into 2019. She also asked approval of the 2019 phone stipend list, as well as for hiring a replacement full-time dispatcher, effective Jan. 24, and accepting the resignations of public health nurse Emily Root and registered nurse Sara Peterson — effective Jan. 22.

Furthermore, Kohn asked to be allowed to advertise for two replacement nursing positions — one of which will be a 1.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) and another that will be a .5 FTE.

She then went on to discuss draft changes to the emergency manager’s position — as recommended by DeGeorge and the personnel committee. Sheriff’s office intermittent staffing limits also came up for discussion during the meeting.

The Board chose to grant action for all items, with Commissioner Mitch Lentz noting that none of the commissioners receive a phone stipend as compensation for the use of their personal phones for county business and making a motion not to have phone stipends in Fillmore County.

He maintained that phone stipends should not exist because for numerous county employees, it is part of the job to be available by phone. The list of phone stipend recipients was approved, but Lentz registered his vote against.

 DeGeorge spoke about the emergency management position, pointing out that over the last years since the position was created in 2011, the county’s need for an emergency manager has changed and the need for an assistant jail administrator has as well. The duties of emergency manager would be assigned to the chief deputy, and the assistant jail administrator’s tasks would be split between the current jail staff.

Zoning matters

Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins requested to adjust her department’s fee schedule — relating that the $250 fine for construction started without a permit is not a high enough penalty to motivate those who purposely do so. She sought an increase in the amount to $500 per violation, as doing so might deter violators from bypassing the zoning office’s requirements and being brought to the county attorney’s attention.

The commissioners agreed that the original amount was too low to serve any purpose and that an increase may get citizens’ attention.

Adkins registered another request to have homeowner gray-water system installation fees raised to $450, as she had received applications from Amish residents to carry out installing gray-water systems on their own homes. Ultimately, the fee was set at $700 with the hope that anyone who wants to install their own system does so using the zoning department’s services to remain in compliance.

Highway department

Highway Engineer Ron Gregg spoke about the county entering into a detour agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) to use County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 8 from Trunk Highway 52 to Trunk Highway 250 in Lanesboro.

He also brought along a resolution authorizing MNDOT officers to sign the detour agreement, advertising for the Lanesboro fish hatchery entrance project, advertising for a bridge replacement project to be done on CSAH 1, and approval of the 2019 travel and conference schedule for the highway and airport department.

Other departmental business

Social Services Manager Kevin Olson asked for approval of the Juvenile Justice Screening grant funds, and the commissioners obliged.

Auditor-treasurer Jones came before the board to update authorized signatures on accounts with the financial institutions that handle the county’s funds.

Additionally, County Economic Development Director Marty Walsh, of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), presented the 2019 CEDA contract and the $9,825.50 first quarter invoice for staffing services.

Other business

 The consent agenda included payment of the $450 National Association of Counties invoice for 2019, dues for several professional organizations and the 2019 Workers Compensation renewal at a cost of $91,236. Consent agenda approval was also given for the 2019 property and liability renewal of $139,040 to the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT), the $109,821.50 Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted County Corrections first quarter invoice to Olmsted County and granting a three-night overnight stay for auditor-treasurer Heidi Jones and account tech lead Lori Affeldt to attend the annual MACO conference Feb. 12 to Feb. 15.

The Commissioners will not meet on Jan. 15, instead changing the January calendar to include a Jan. 22 meeting.