At the September 26 meeting of the county board, the discussion of the preliminary levy was last on a busy agenda. County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman reported that some recommended adjustments have been made which reduced the increase to 5.16% for 2018.
The preliminary levy number includes an estimated 7% increase in health insurance, down from an earlier estimate of a 14% increase. Vickerman suggested it could possibly be lower. The numbers figure in a 2.5% wage increase. She noted that property tax statements go out using the preliminary levy numbers. When the final levy is set in December, the levy for 2018 can be lowered from the preliminary number, but not raised.
Chairman Randy Dahl brought up the goal of increasing the fund balance. Will we have to bond for a new jail or to fix it? He continued, I think I’m hearing that we will fix it and maintain a 90-day facility. He then suggested putting a little funding in to maintain our reserves.
Commissioner Duane Bakke said he was OK with where we are now; see if there can be additional savings later. Commissioner Gary Peterson agreed. Commissioner Marc Prestby said his goal was a 5% increase.
Bakke suggested courthouse security improvements can be paid for with two years of dividends from Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT).
The 2018 preliminary levy was unanimously approved at $10,494,475 ($502.95 per capita). This represents a 5.16% increase. County Program Aid in 2018 will be $698,998, which is roughly $94,000 over 2017.
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
Tim Penny, SMIF President and CEO, described the kind of work the foundation does, expending $5 million in resources mostly through loans and grants. The foundation invests its funds across 20 south central and southeastern Minnesota counties. SMIF investments are targeted toward business development, early childhood education, and community vitality and economic development.
Funding for early childhood education is distributed through grants; for example, books distributed often through school districts. Community foundations located in Fillmore County each received a $10,000 grant in support of their community funding. Penny pointed to these grants as an investment in the future.
Penny thanked the county for the their past support, noting that about 10% of SMIF’s budget is raised locally. For every dollar raised in Fillmore County, $30 is invested back into the county. The board approved an appropriation of $1,500.
Other business in brief
• The board approved the 2017 Emergency Management Performance Grant agreement. The federal grant in the amount of $21,456 is mostly used to pay wages and benefits. It requires a 50/50 match. Chief Deputy Kevin Beck said we have had this agreement for several years. The match comes out of the Emergency Management budget.
A police contract with the city of Ostrander was discussed. It will be brought back next week after language changes are approved by both the city’s attorney and the county attorney.
Sheriff Tom Kaase reported there has been progress on compliance issues for the jail. He said they have one state prisoner back already. Commissioner Mitch Lentz asked for an overall plan for jail improvements that will be needed to comply with Department of Corrections requirements.
• The low bid from Fountain Lumber in the amount of $35,890 as approved to replace the roof on shop seven in Preston (100-foot by 200-foot building). The bid includes disposal of the old roof.
The low bid from Greystone Construction in the amount of $12,590 to replace wind damaged hoop fabric at the Canton salt shed was approved. The wind damage was turned into MCIT; the insurance pay out will be $13,000. There was some discussion about replacing the shed with a larger, rigid structure since this is not the first time the shed has sustained damage. Brent Kohn estimated such a structure could cost $100,000. It was suggested to build a fund to replace the building a few years down the road.
There was a discussion about the possible purchase of a new fuel system at the highway department for use by all county vehicles. The system would cost about $24,000. This would be for gas vehicles. No action was taken.
A Hanger Lease Agreement at the airport with Stall Horn Aviation LLC and Deters Aviation LLC was approved.
• Justin Kroeger, a benefit consultant with Flexible Benefits Inc., explained his and the Benefits Committee recommendation to use Lincoln Financial Group to provide disability (100% employee cost), life (county sponsored), and dental (100% employee cost) for county employees. The board accepted the committee’s recommendation.
• Approval was given to advertise for a replacement Case Aid in Community Services, Public Health both internally and externally.
• Shelly Caldwell, sales manager, and Christina Wells, technology advisor, both with Marco Inc., gave an overview of Managed Information Technology Services. The board expressed satisfaction with the service and approved the continuation of the contract with Marco Inc.
• Jessica Erickson, Director of Nursing, asked for and received approval of Memorandums of Understanding for Minnesota vaccine for children with Houston, Mower, Wabasha, and Winona Counties. The county will be reimbursed directly from Minnesota Department of Health. It is revenue neutral for the county.
• Kevin Olson, Social Services manager, asked for and received approval of a Family Engagement Strategies Contract with Families First of Rochester. The program helps prevent placement costs by helping families work through issues.