Most of the county board’s August 24 meeting was dedicated to the 2022 budget process.
Laura Christianson, SWCD administrator, requested the county increase its annual appropriation by $5,000 to $220,000. She said there were 49 projects in 2020. For every $1 dollar Fillmore County invested last year, a total of $5.20 was generated combining local, state, and federal revenue. SWCD provides conservation funding, technical assistance, and educational outreach.
Cristal Adkins, zoning administrator, presented both the Zoning and Feedlot proposed budgets. She noted there was very little change. The number of feedlots have declined and the time spent on septic inspections has increased.
County Engineer Ron Gregg and highway/airport office manager Pam Schroeder reviewed their budgets. Highway is broken down to administrator, engineering, shop, and highway maintenance. Gregg noted one increased budget item is for consultants to design certain bridges for next year. There will be no federal projects in 2022. Federal projects are planned years ahead.
The funding for weed control was doubled as the county intends to spray weeds on the roadside countywide next year instead of only half the county one year and the other half the next year. The equipment purchase funding proposed for 2022 is $350,000. Gregg said a replacement motor grader is needed with an attachment for compaction and also a tractor and a hydro-seeder for ditch and culvert work.
Local Option Sales Tax funds will likely be used for two bridge replacements on 3-digit roads and the chip sealing program. The funds from the Wheelage Tax are used for preservation projects only. The Capital Improvement Plan was discussed. A total of $400,000 has been set aside over past years for the Chatfield shop. The need to continue building funds for building construction and building improvement was discussed. Chairman Randy Dahl said building the funds a little each year helps to keep things level/steady.
Schroeder said the budgets for electricity and liability insurance were increased due to the additional T-hangars at the airport.
Lori Affeldt, finance director, reviewed her budget. She noted the county’s audit is ongoing and should wrap up soon.
County Administrator Bobbie Hillery reviewed a list of proposed budgets including commissioners, administrator, general government, district court, law library, accounting services, data processing, GIS, county farm, other general government, information systems, Chatfield abatement, debt service, and EDA.
Hillery reviewed technology and security upgrades for the rest of 2021 and 2022. Some of the upgrades are in progress.
The levy increase currently is at 8.99% for 2022. Insurance was figured in during the budget process at a 12% increase. The estimate is now 2.25% increase. The cost of living increase has not yet been determined, but for estimating purposes a 3% increase was plugged in. The board intends to bring this very preliminary levy number down. Adjustments will be made. At the September 14 meeting the budget will be discussed and the preliminary number will be approved at the September 28 meeting.
Other business in brief
• Five bids were submitted for the Lanesboro Fish Hatchery project near Lanesboro. The lowest bid submitted by Rochester Sand and Gravel in the amount of $523,856.76 was accepted The engineer’s estimate was $460,869.00. This was the second round of bids for this project. The state approved this difference for the township road that goes to the hatchery.
• The purchase of a used pay loader to be stored at the Chatfield shop was approved. Brent Kohn said $50,000 had been budgeted for this purchase. The loader from RDO Equipment Co., Rochester, will cost $45,800 including freight (Burnsville to Preston).
There was a discussion about the number of township road/intersection signs that are faded and not readable. The cost of the signs is the responsibility of the townships. Federal dollars should be available to pay for them. By consensus the board agreed to send out letters to townships and a copy of agreements between townships and the county to get the signs replaced.
• An access permit to CR 3 was approved for Dan Miller, section 21 Bloomfield Township.
• Approval was given for the purchase of 25 chairs for Public Health at a total cost of $8,182.25. The chairs will be paid for using grant funds. The chairs being replaced are over 20 years old.
Jessica Erickson, director of nursing, reviewed Joint Board of Health (with Houston County) grant expenditures and funding that is still available.
Erickson noted immunocompromised people are eligible for a third vaccination shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The so called booster shot has not been approved at this point for Americans.
In June there were seven COVID cases in the county, in July there were 50 cases, and in August to this day there have been 113 COVID cases.
• The low quote from Storelee Cement & Masonry in the amount of $2,980 was approved to replace a concrete pad where the bike rack sits on the northeast side of the courthouse.
• Julia McCaslin was hired as a replacement administration Accounting Technician, effective September 8.
Aimee Stettler was hired as a replacement assessor Accounting Technician, effective September 13.