At the April 12 meeting of the Fillmore County Board, commissioners decided unanimously to leave the commissioner districts unchanged.
Auditor/Treasurer Christy Smith had reached out to cities and townships to see if any of them were going to have any boundary line changes. No city or township reported any boundary changes due to the 2020 census.
Commissioners had discussed possible options to change district boundaries to get the population of each district more evenly distributed. As it is currently, the First District deviates slightly over 10% above the average and the Third District deviates about 7% below the average.
Commissioner Randy Dahl said he hadn’t heard from anyone from the public that was concerned about these deviations from the average. Commissioner Duane Bakke said the right way to redistrict will be difficult. Chairman Mitch Lentz acknowledged that the northern border will likely grow significantly between now and the next census, but the 10% number used by the state in Fillmore County is very small.
In regard to redistricting, County Recorder David Kiehne had a thought-provoking comment. He said he would love to see the county move forward with commissioners “at large.” Everybody in the county could vote for all the commissioner positions. In 1853, when the districting rules were set, it was completely different, as they did not have today’s ability to easily communicate and travel across the county was more time consuming. Kiehne explained with commissioners at large, every voter will get to vote for all their county commissioners. Now 80% don’t get to vote for four of the commissioners. Each commissioner needs to get over 50% of about 20% of Fillmore County voters.
Bakke commented that it was an interesting concept, but he had never heard of it before.
Other business in brief
•County Engineer Ron Gregg presented the board with a proposal for the construction of a needed storage building at the county’s Chatfield location. The building will have five bays, one being a wash bay. Having studied the proposal commissioners provided a list of possible changes to the proposal. Each of the 13 possible changes were discussed. Each was reviewed as to how it could add to the life of the building, how it will aid in the efficient operation of the building, and its upfront cost. Dahl commented that a little extra upfront cost can be the best value for taxpayers. The building is needed to provide a facility to house, maintain, and clean plow trucks. The request for proposals with the agreed upon changes was approved.
•A/T Smith and County Administrator Bobbie Hillery demonstrated the difficulty moving and lifting AutoMARKs, which are required for every election to be ADA compliant for voters with disabilities. The AutoMARKs are 18 years old and are heavy and awkward to move. Smith said only a small number of people use AutoMARKs but one assistive device is required at each precinct. The new OmniBallot Tablets are a fraction of the size and weight. Approval was given to purchase 22 OmniBallots to replace the AutoMARKs. The total cost of the OmniBallots is $101,722, of which $48,342.09 will be paid for with a VEGA Grant and $24,623.86 by a HAVA Grant. The balance of $28,756.05 will be paid for by the county.
•Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins introduced Dallas Dornink, the new feedlot officer, to the commissioners. An access permit for a new field drive to CR 30 for Nathen Yutzy, section 34, Bristol Township was approved. Yutzy has plans to split off a 10-acre buildable site.
•Anne Koliha presented the 2021 county Feedlot Officer Annual Report. She said the report was reviewed with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and everything looked good. Fourteen and one-half performance credits were earned with work completed in 2021. There were only three feedlot applications in 2021 and all of them were under 300 units. There were no large projects. The annual report with signature was approved as presented. Bakke noted there are only three counties in the state with more registered feedlots than Fillmore County.
•Trenton Chiglo was hired as a highway maintenance specialist.
•The retirement of Susan Phillips, accounting technician lead, was accepted with thanks for her 21 years of service, effective June 16.
•A request to change the current accounting technician lead position in the recorder’s office to an accounting technician position was approved. A request for the internal transfer of accounting technician, Julia McCaslin, from administration to the recorder’s office effective April 18 was approved with no request for replacement in the administrator’s office, at this time.
•The resignation of Brooke Johnson, sheriff deputy, was approved, effective April 8.
•A request to hire a summer helper in the sanitation department was approved.