The county board, at their March 14 meeting, approved a resolution of support for Senate bill 0479 and companion House bill 609, which would modify County Program Aid from the state should they become law.
Senator Jeremy Miller is chief author of the Senate bill and a resolution of support was approved by the board. A county employee will be present to testify in support of the bill on March 15, possibly County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman or Commissioner Duane Bakke. The bill has been referred to Taxes. The companion bill in the House was co-authored by Rep. Greg Davids.
This is a legislative priority for Fillmore County and the Association of Minnesota Counties. They seek to increase, strengthen and sustain CPA. The hope is to make CPA less volatile to provide certainty for counties in the budgeting process. Overall funding increases along with formula revisions are being sought.
Recycling ag plastics
Bonita Underbakke, Holt Township, during the Citizens Input portion of the meeting, informed the board of a Public Ag Plastic Recycling meeting to be held at MiEnergy Building west of Rushford on March 29 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The program will introduce an opportunity for farmers and growers to recycle bale wrap, bunker covers, irrigation tubing, and other ag plastics at no cost. The informational program will be hosted by Friends of the Root River.
Wayne Gjerde, coordinator of Recycling Market Development from MPCA, will speak about the program. LaVerne Paulson, Fillmore County Recycling, will provide information about changes that will allow for more plastics to be recycled by county residents.
Revolution Plastics offers free, on-farm ag and silage plastic recycling. A dumpster may be provided on your farm and emptied at no cost, depending on your location and plastic use. For more information or to sign up go to www.RevolutionPlastics.com. Contact by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (844) 490-7873.
RSVP by March 27 by e-mail to email@example.com or phone (507) 467-2157 to get a count for lunch and parking for the public information session at MiEnergy on March 29.
Other business in brief
• Feedlot officer Mike Frauenkron reviewed the 2016 feedlot year end report and the 2016 Annual County Feedlot Officer and Performance Credit report. The reports were accepted and signature of the chairman authorized.
Fillmore County has 737 registered feedlots eligible for funding. MPCA determined that the county satisfactorily conducted 74 inspections, or over 10%. State statute requires the inspection of at least 7% of registered feedlots.
Frauenkron noted that when he started there were over 1,700 registered feedlots in Fillmore County; many have gone out of business and have been abandoned.
Bakke reported on a recent meeting of the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board where feedlot fixes were discussed. From 2000 to 2013, 1,446 feedlots were abandoned in this 10-county area. In 2001, it was determined that 3,357 feedlots likely posed a pollution hazard. In 2017, it is estimated that 350 to 400 still likely pose a pollution hazard. Of those, as many as 60 still need fixing in Fillmore County; some of these may have been abandoned.
• Frauenkron received approval to purchase a new Chevy Equinox on the state bid using Performance Credit funds. The 2009 Equinox he currently uses with 72,000 miles on it will be transferred to Zoning/county fleet in exchange for $4,100 trade-in value.
• The resignation of Neva Beier, Social Services Manager, was accepted effective April 13. Kristina Kohn said she has been with us since late 2012. She is leaving for other employment opportunities. Kohn said she appreciated her efforts on behalf of the county and thanked her for her service.
The advertisement for Beier’s replacement was approved.
• Modifications were made to electronic device stipends. Commissioners eliminated any stipends for personal commissioner cell phones. They had been getting a $25 per month stipend. Commissioner Mitch Lentz said a cell phone is not a requirement for a commissioner, but is a tool to be more effective, adding there should not be a reimbursement. Bakke stated that if he was not a commissioner, his personal cell phone would cost him the same as it does now.
Department heads had been asked to recommend people in their departments that should have a stipend to reimburse a portion of their cell phone bill. Stipends, if necessary, are now either $15 or $40 per month. A few stipends were increased. Many were decreased and some eliminated due to the availability of another device from the county to get data. In 2016, the total cell phone stipend cost for the year was $27,060. In 2017 the cost will be reduced to $15,660.
• County Engineer Ron Gregg requested and received approval of an updated Bridge Priority Replacement list. The list needs to be kept current to make bridges eligible for funding.