Department heads present preliminary budgets to County Board

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Fillmore County Commissioners gathered for the first meeting of August on Tuesday, Aug. 7, with quite a bit to deal with for the day’s work.

Preliminary budgets were the main matter at hand, and heads of the county’s departments sat in front of the commissioners to outline what their needs for the coming year might include.

Building Maintenance Supervisor Terry Schultz brought forward a quote from Winona Heating and Ventilating to replace the courthouse’s Titus System program, then went on to present his 2019 maintenance and infrastructure budgets.

Schultz’s budget proposal included allowances for generators to back up the electrical service to the courthouse, public service building and the jail, as the computer servers to each require consistent cooling, and the county’s store of vaccines needs to be refrigerated.

He added that fire alarms in all three buildings will need attention as well.

There was some question as to whether Schultz should be responsible for the maintenance of the main highway shop building — beyond custodial work — as funding was included in his budget for such.

Commissioner Duane Bakke inquired whether that funding should be in that particular budget because by placing the funds there, that would imply that Schultz is in charge of more than just the cleaning of the shop.

Bakke pointed out he didn’t feel Schultz has the time to devote to keeping the shop’s structure maintained, and another commissioner suggested it should be the highway employees’ responsibility to hammer nails into the building where needed.

Conversation on other maintenance projects ensued, and Commissioner Randy Dahl encouraged Schultz to continue doing the great job he’s been doing in maintaining the county’s facilities, an effort of elbow grease and duct tape.

County Surveyor Jeff Brand also shared his budget proposal for his department.

The Board heard a presentation from University of Minnesota Extension Regional Director Lisa Dierks regarding a three-year program agreement, and another for the 2019 proposed Extension budget.

Coordinator’s report

Coordinator and Auditor-Treasurer Vickerman had a request for authorization for repurchase of forfeited property inside the city of Rushford by Larry and Janice Johnson, followed by approval of the board.

She said, “We did have another person who would like to buy back the property and pay all the money that’s owed, pay all the back taxes and get caught up.”

Bakke asked Vickerman why there had been two requests to the board, over the span of the last and current meetings, for the repurchase of forfeited properties. The rest of the commissioners observed that the process of bringing the matter before the board is how it should be done, instead of relying on the auditor’s office, as Lentz noted it might have been done previously.

Vickerman stated there hadn’t been many requests for repurchasing land, and the persons requesting the action were not engaged in the final stages of property forfeiture.

The commissioners voted to allow the Johnsons to buy their land back.

The commissioners also approved the date for canvassing the primary election on Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. and named commissioners Mitch Lentz and Gary Peterson to attend the canvassing, as the other three — Bakke, Dahl and Prestby — are ineligible to do so due to conflicts of interest with elections happening in their respective districts.

Citizen’s input

In other property news, Ken Kiehne of Harmony used the citizens’ input portion of the meeting to petition the board for assistance in having his acreage assessed as a building site or his tax assessment changed to reflect its untillable status. The county has an ordinance governing how many homes can be built in a quarter-quarter section, and Kiehne shared how he had originally had a building site in the quarter-quarter that contains his acreage but the other available site in that section had been bought up by someone else, leaving him with an acreage that is not tillable but taxed as rural residential. He thanked the commissioners for their time in hearing about his predicament.

Director of nursing report

Director of Nursing Jessica Erickson came before the commissioners with a resolution for the Toward Zero Death (TZD) grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for traffic safety projects from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019.

She also shared a discussion about the joint board of health community health services administrator’s role, as the position is shared with Houston County. The financial work that accompanies the role will be transitioned back to Fillmore County’s custody when or if it becomes Erickson and her staff’s responsibility to handle the administration of the joint board of health community health services. She noted a five-year period for that responsibility.

Human resources

Human Resource Officer Kristina Kohn had second readings of numerous policies for the board to consider, including the draft updates to the sexual harassment, harassment and violence in the workplace, termination, leaves of absence, access to not-public data, employee personnel records, and the overtime and compensatory time policies.

Following review and approval of the policies, Kohn cited that dispatcher Gary Skaggs requested to retire through the early retirement incentive program (ERIP) — effective Jan. 31, 2019. The board thanked Skaggs for his 17 years of service to the county.

The Board then went on to hear requests from Kohn to hire a replacement shop foreman under union pay scale effective no later than Oct. 31 and to advertise for a replacement head mechanic.

Highway department

 Highway Engineer Ron Gregg had payment resolutions for the 2018 rock contract with Milestone Materials for County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 6 and CSAH 8, as well as County Road 114. Work on CSAH 1 north of Spring Valley is ongoing — the roadway has been closed all summer to provide time for the third phase of the reengineering and resurfacing project to be carried out.

Other business

The Board agreed to advertise the 2019 and 2020 lease of the county farm land, which expired this year. Bids will be accepted up until Sept. 6 so they can be opened at the Sept. 11 meeting. Commissioner Marc Prestby made a motion to approve the lease contract, with corrections to the acreage measurements.

Vickerman gave an update on the initiative to replace some conference and courtroom equipment, such as interactive television for the boardroom instead of rolling televisions on carts into the places where they’re needed. The board granted Vickerman permission to pursue requests for proposals.

The board approved a request from the Fillmore County economic development authority (EDA) to submit an application to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Preservation grant. The intent is to find out more about the grant itself from EDA Director Marty Walsh, who was unable to attend the board meeting and was therefore represented by Vickerman.

The consent agenda included approving payment of the $110,395.50 third-quarter Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections 2018 appropriation to Olmsted County, and granting a fireworks permit for Schrage Displays to hold a private display on Sept. 1.