County to hold special election to fill seat following Gary Peterson resignation

Gary Peterson
By : 
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Fillmore County commissioners convened one man short last Tuesday, Jan. 22, as the Board accepted the resignation of District 3 Commissioner Gary Peterson, who submitted his resignation to the county coordinator on Thursday, Jan. 17, stating the reason to be “personal.” Board members thanked him for his dedication and wished him well.

Later in the meeting the commissioners discussed how to fill his position on the Board, which would have expired at the end of the year in 2020.

It was noted that state statute requires a special election to fill a vacancy if there is more than a year left in the term.

Peterson represents District 3, which includes the area around Spring Valley. Notice of the special election will be published in the local newspapers, including the Spring Valley Tribune, which covers that area.

Residents in District 3 who may be interested in serving as a Fillmore County Commissioner will be able to file for office in March. If a primary election is needed — for more than two candidates — the primary will be held on May 14 with an election on Aug. 13. If no primary is needed, the special election can be held on May 14.

SWCD report

Fillmore Soil and Water Conservation District Administrator Donna Rasmussen and Water Management Coordinator Caleb Fisher came before the board with a request for their approval to close out grants, including the 2016 and 2017 Wetland Conservation Act grants as part of the Natural Resources Block Grant. Commissioners Marc Prestby and Randy Dahl offered motions for that action, after which Commissioner Randy Dahl and Commissioner Mitch Lentz made motions to close out the 2019 local water management.

Recorder’s report

Recorder Dave Kiehne gave the recorder’s 2018 compliance report for documents recorded last year, then went on to ask for consideration of annual expenditures for allocated and unallocated accounts in his department.

He related there had been some concerns regarding people attempting to push documents through his office the last week of the year to obtain tax credits, and Commissioner Duane Bakke encouraged him to gain input from the association to which his department belongs to get a better understanding of their position, as well as to contact legislators about the matter.

Board members also unanimously approved the annual expenditures.

Solid waste report

Solid Waste Administrator Drew Hatzenbihler spoke about a fine at the Winneshiek County landfill. He informed the commissioners that a letter had been drafted and sent to the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center customers on April 16 regarding a ban on cardboard and medical sharps with loads going to the Winneshiek County landfill and the accompanying fines. Dahl and Prestby submitted the motions in support of the letter, and the board obliged unanimously.

After that, he presented the updated Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center credit and operating policy and sought approval of a major modification request made by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The draft updates to the operating policy were heard, and Hatzenbihler will bring the policy back for the second reading.

Re-permitting the Resource Recovery Center gained the board’s approval as well, and an explanation was made to clarify that it is not a physical modification to the center, but a change in the operation, because the county’s requested daily tonnage increase is considered a major modification that requires public notice before it is accepted.

Personnel issues

Human Resource Officer Kristina Kohn had a list of items to present to the board, beginning with classifications appeals for a compensation and classification study, then discussion about updated job descriptions.

The board accepted the resignation of lead account technician Lori Affeldt – effective Feb. 1 — and approved the advertisement for an account technician in the auditor-treasurer’s office on the recommendation of the personnel committee.

Board members thanked Affeldt for her years of service to the county, then went on to advertise internally and externally for her replacement until Feb. 15.

The county has recently been restructuring some of its departments, including the assessor’s office due to the announced retirement of longtime assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt.

An interview was held during the meeting to find a candidate for a new position of land records director. The board decided to offer the land records director’s position to Brian Hoff for an annual salary of $71,947.20. Following the interview and offer, the meeting was closed pursuant to M.S. 13D.03 for labor negotiations regarding the review of a compensation study and reopened approximately ten minutes later to resume business on the agenda.

Other business

Other items encompassed zoning administrator Cristal Adkins bringing forward the 2019 septic treatment systems grant agreement for the commissioners’ review.

Auditor-treasurer Heidi Jones asking the board to approve the amended Fillmore County abatement policy update and the updated 2019 fee schedule.

Administrative items included reviewing bids for the approval of the annual newspaper designation — choosing the Fillmore County Journal, discussing the commissioners’ committee appointment, talking about the date for the board of appeal and equalization and changing a June board meeting from June 11 to June 18.

The commissioners also approved making computer purchases with grant money for the feedlot and zoning departments.

Temporary committee assignments were given attention, and Dahl was attached to the safety and emergency management committee and to the economic development authority, Bakke was assigned to solid waste, Lentz to law enforcement, Prestby to facilities, and Hatzenbihler to the Winneshiek landfill.

The consent agenda included transferring $350,000 to the city of Preston for the veterans’ home allocation.