The board authorized a letter to be sent to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety stating the county experienced extensive damage from the June 27-28 heavy rains and flooding. The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency due to conditions resulting from the June flooding event at the July 2 board meeting.
County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman said an initial report of damages sustained in Sumner, Jordan, and Chatfield Townships caused the county to meet or exceed 50% of the county federal damage indicator ($39, 436). The letter goes on to request the state’s assistance to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment for the State Public Assistance Program. The letter will be signed by Donald Kullot, Emergency Management and Duane Bakke, board chair.
Kullot will be checking with townships and cities that may have experienced damage from this rain event. Sheriff John DeGeorge said there is more damage to be assessed. Damage assessments are to be done for this singular event. He asked that township officers take pictures of damages and e-mail them to Kullot.
DeGeorge made it clear that further damage from ongoing storms will need to meet the threshold and require a separate declaration.
Ron Gregg, Highway, added the state would have to meet its threshold before it declares a state of emergency to get federal assistance.
MnDot District 6 work plan
Kurt Wayne, District Principal Planner, and Mike Dougherty, Public Affairs/Community Relations, reviewed improvement plans for 2019, a four year plan beginning in 2020, and a long range plan through 2029. District 6 includes 11 counties in southeast Minnesota.
Roads included in 2019 construction projects in Fillmore County are Highway 30 repaving from Highway 74 east to west of Rushford, a portion of the Highway 52 resurfacing from CR 5 in Chatfield to I-90, and a portion of the resurfacing of Highway 16 from I-90 to Tracy Rd. in Spring Valley.
Project plans are always in flux depending on road condition changes and funding availability. For example, repaving of Highway 80 through Wykoff and to the south of Fountain was scheduled for 2024, but due to its comparative good condition the project has been moved back to 2029.
Wayne admitted that projects they would like to do are delayed due to budget limits. He referred to a chart which showed less funding for non-national highway systems than last year. Highways 52 and 63 are part of the national highway system.
Wayne showed where some projects are moved back a year, forcing other projects for the next year to be moved back in a domino effect because of funding limits. This domino effect forces revisions of the level of funding to be anticipated in succeeding years.
Bakke said our legislators insist we have more dollars for transportation than ever before. Wayne acknowledged that it seems to be true, but even with an actual increase in dollars, the increase fails to keep up with actual purchasing power because of increased costs/inflation.
Bakke said, “I recognize that, but they (our legislators) don’t. It is getting old.” Dougherty added some of the increase in actual dollars is being used to pay back bonds, which is money already spent.
Vickerman, Bakke, and Commissioner Randy Dahl all expressed concerns over the condition of portions of Highway 43, through Choice. Bakke maintained there should be a lower speed limit on Highway 43 from CR 37 to CR 12. The speed limit was raised on Highway 43 a few months ago to 60 mph. Vickerman said there are three distinct areas, especially the corner above Choice where big chunks are out near a bridge, causing safety concerns. Dahl said markers are needed and there is no shoulder due to heavy rains.
Dahl asked if construction planning is taking into account a future of autonomous (self driving) vehicles. Wayne said they were considering the future use of these vehicles and considering different scenarios and how autonomous vehicles may be used.
Other business in brief
•Solid Waste Administrator Drew Hatzenbihler explained Revolution Plastics is willing to provide Ag Plastic Recycling at the recovery center at no cost to the county. Residents that don’t produce enough plastic to qualify for a dumpster from Revolution Plastics on their own property could bring Ag Plastic to the recovery center. About 85 ton has been collected by Revolution Plastics and that could only be half of the plastic out there.
Hatzenbihler said there are two options: dumpsters at the recovery center where residents put their plastic into the dumpster or the sale of collection bags for residents to fill and bring in to the recovery center. Hatzenbihler preferred the dumpster on site as it would take less storage room. The board approved going ahead with the option of Revolution Plastics bringing dumpsters on site for residents to fill.
Two possible Minnesota CAP grant options were discussed for facility improvements/renovations in 2021/2022. A 50% match is possible for improvements. But, a 75% match could be available for a complete reconstruction of the transfer station. This could allow for more storage, loading dock, and furniture and mattress recycling. Hatzenbihler said he would like to collect paint year round.
This is two years out; a consultant could look at the property and money could be budgeted for this future project. Hatzenbihler explained this was intended to be informational to see if there is interest in moving forward, to do planning.
The Winneshiek County Hauler Permit for July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, at a rate of $70 per ton was approved.
•Gregg asked for and received approval to purchase a survey tool called a Punjear Jack Hammer from Fastenal, the lower of two quotes, at a cost of $4,269. This was slightly over the $4,000 budgeted for this tool.
•The hire of Erika Draper as a Registered Nurse effective August 12 was approved.
•County Attorney Brett Corson updated the board on a ruling made by the Tax Court on June 4 favoring Northern Natural Gas. The company had appealed assessments for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017. Corson said the Department of Revenue has struggled with how to assess pipeline and stations. State assessor values assigned are higher than those of the court. Money will have to be refunded. Fifty-nine out of 87 counties will be affected. The court apportionable market value is about $93 million less in 2015 and $147 million less in 2016 than the assessed apportionable market value. Either party may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Vickerman said there is nothing the county could have done differently; it is all based on Department of Revenue assessments.