The management program for law enforcement vehicles was evaluated after being in place for about a year at the county board’s May 7 meeting.
Wong Nystrom, Enterprise Fleet Management, was asked by Sheriff John DeGeorge to put together a four/five year budget plan for the board’s consideration. The budget plan shows the amount needed per year to support law enforcement vehicles. This amount could still be affected by vehicle inflation costs.
It was emphasized that this is not a typical vehicle leasing program. The vehicles are purchased on a monthly installment plan. Nystrom said it is structured as a financed to own program. Fleet Management holds title to the vehicle until it is paid off or the county decides to sell it.
The management plan calls for a four to five year rotation of the vehicles depending on how they are used; investigator vehicles are rotated after five years. Nystrom maintained the whole cost of ownership of vehicles needs to be considered, including maintenance cost and resale value. Rotating vehicles on a four/five year plan is expected to reduce maintenance costs and increase resale values.
DeGeorge said the department doesn’t have the time or resources to do what Enterprise Management can do. Nystrom added, “We give you data driven information; you (the board) control all decisions.”
Commissioner Mitch Lentz argued that if this program is good enough for law enforcement, why not look into using it for all county vehicles. Chairman Duane Bakke wants to continue to be provided with an annual update.
A continuation of the program was approved as recommended by law enforcement committee. Nystrom said he could provide an analysis regarding the value of using the program for other county vehicles.
Chronic Wasting Disease update
Dr. Michelle Carstensen, leader of the wildlife health program, DNR, provided a background on CWD and ongoing efforts to limit spread of the disease. CWD is a slowly progressive brain disease caused by a mis-shapen protein. The prion disease is spread from animal to animal affecting deer in our area.
This disease affecting whitetail deer and their larger relatives is in 26 states, three Canadian providences, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. It is 100% fatal. The disease “is having a negative effect on long-term deer densities in other states.” The prevalence is over 40% in Wisconsin. Two-thirds of the counties in Wisconsin are CWD infected. Carstensen said we want to avoid that in Minnesota.
The first infection found in southern Minnesota was in a captive elk farm near Pine Island in 2010.
The infection is persisting in the Preston/Lanesboro area and spreading outward. Forty-six deer have tested positive in Fillmore County since 2016. Four positive deer have been found in Winona County since 2018.
Prions can remain infectious for years outside of a host body, as they bind to the soil, especially clay soils.
There have been 553 deer with a negative test for the disease donated in southeast Minnesota. Bluffland Whitetails Association (SE Minnesota) helped with the donation program “Share the Harvest.”
Carstensen explained the next steps include evaluating the data in Minnesota and neighboring states and implementing strategies to minimize the spread of the disease.
There were two comments during the Citizens Input portion related to this subject.
John Zanmiller, Bluffland Whitetails, thanked the board for allowing access to county land for CWD management activity. Valuable data is collected and myths are dispelled. Several bills are before the legislature. Zanmiller hopes the courage the board showed is contagious to the legislature.
Jim Vagts, Bristol Township, said wildlife is important. His estate plan passes his farmland to his family. CWD is an important wildlife issue. He noted that we are fortunate to have a proactive DNR and they need our support. He commended the board for cooperating with the DNR. He said there was an extensive harvest of deer on his property. “I am doing my part to combat the situation and I need the cooperation of my neighbors and government agencies. We don’t want to let happen what has happened in Wisconsin, with a 40% infection rate.”
Other business in brief
•County Attorney Brett Corson updated the board on the Amish Subsurface Sewage Treatment System case. The court found for the government. There is more detailed information on this case decision in the May 6 issue of the Fillmore County Journal on page 11. Corson called it a good decision for Fillmore County. The plaintiffs have 60 days to appeal the ruling. The county’s ordinance allows for an alternate system, a “gray water” system for Amish (a smaller septic tank and drain field). The Amish will also need to have a compliant outhouse.
Corson said the ruling will help protect groundwater. Corson was asked about enforcement. At this point, he hopes Amish will voluntarily agree to comply with the ruling and the county ordinance.
•An agreement between the city of Preston and the county regarding the tax forfeited Preston Oil Products property was approved. The city agrees to have the tanks removed and have soil samples taken at the city’s expense within the next six months. The city has already approved the agreement.
•County Engineer Ron Gregg requested that all bids for the reconstruction of Grosbeak Rd. from Highway 16 to the Lanesboro Fish Hatchery be rejected due to funding issues. All bids were rejected. Gregg said the DNR expects the project to be fundable next year.
Approval was given to award the replacement of a bridge on CSAH 12 to Icon Construction, the low bidder at the amount of $441,557. This is a federal project. The engineer’s estimate was $516,822.15.
•The resignation of Danea Murphy, GIS coordinator, was accepted effective May 22 after 13 years of service.
•The board rescinded a motion for a contract with Girard’s Business Solutions for Electronic Document Management Software. The Technology/Land Records/GIS committee recommended rescinding the motion to start the process over to review and consider all options.
•The Minnesota Department of Revenue, assessor department, requires an AMA certified assessor by May 1, which is 90 days after the resignation of Cindy Blagsvedt. Brian Hoff hasn’t earned his AMA certification at this point.
Blagsvedt has both an AMA and a SAMA certification. She has signed a contract to work four to 16 hours per week at $100 per hour as an independent contractor to provide the AMA certification until Hoff gets his certification. Board members didn’t feel her services would be needed even four hours per week. Hoff noted the Department of Revenue suggested a minimum of four hours. Hoff will try to get his AMA certification by July 1.
Blagsvedt was appointed as County Assessor as required by the Department of Revenue.
•A resolution to approve sponsorship of the Bluff Valley Riders, Mabel-Canton Trail Busters, Hiawatha I and II, and Tri-County Trailblazers snowmobile clubs for 2019/2020 season was approved.
•All Taxpayer Services are now on the first floor of the courthouse, including Zoning and Feedlot.