Nathan Barker, Fraud Prevention Investigator for a five county region, updated the Fillmore County Board on dollars saved due to fraud prevention efforts, regarding public assistance programs. Commissioner Randy Dahl was absent.
Barker is the fraud investigator for Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Wabasha, and Winona Counties. He noted 10 cases were referred to him from Fillmore County (two more cases than in 2018). The annual savings/overpayments for Fillmore County were in the amount of $37,049.
In the five county region there were 182 referred cases in 2019, with savings/overpayments in the amount of $461,641. Fifty-five of the 182 cases were disqualified. Barker said there is fraud in assistance programs throughout the state; 585 cases were disqualified statewide. Investigators find fraud and, in doing so, free up money for people that need that assistance.
The ultimate goal is to stop fraud, through both education and fraud investigations to deter abuse of assistance programs. Chairman Duane Bakke suggested every application should note on the application that there is a fraud investigator. Social Services Manager Kevin Olson explained there is this kind of information on every application an applicant signs. However, there still will always be people who try to cheat the system. County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman said the knowledge that there is a fraud investigator can act as a deterrent for most people. Barker noted there is a perjury statement in bold print on an application for assistance.
CSAH 5 road repair
County Engineer Ron Gregg and Alan Thorson, former owner of Minnowa Construction, Inc., described the long term problems with an approximately 500-foot stretch on CSAH 5, southwest of Chatfield.
This section of road was reconstructed and surfaced in the early 1970s, after which the first slide occurred in the mid-1970s. During construction the area was filled with 15 feet of fill over unstable soil. The area settles/slides due to an underground formation. Several engineers and soil testing consultants have looked at the problem. There is a layer of silty clay above Sandstone bedrock. When it becomes moist, it liquefies and turns into a slide area. The bedrock is about 45 feet down from the surface.
The greatest drop occurred this last spring after a record amount of snowmelt. The ability for this section to drop is a safety issue. It is also a maintenance issue, requiring gravel to be added to keep the surface up to the hard surface road on either side of it.
Thorson has put together several possible scenarios/ fixes. He said some are not economical enough to be considered. In 2003 a repair was attempted using a trench and a French drain, but the removal of soil didn’t go deep enough to address the problem. Thorson said you have to get down to the Sandstone bedrock, as the moisture does not penetrate the Sandstone. Gravel can always continue to be added but it doesn’t solve the problem.
There are a couple of “land bridges” in Minnesota. Gregg and Thorson recommended constructing a land bridge to take care of lateral movement. It is the most economical and best solution. With a land bridge, piles would be placed into the Sandstone. It would be the same construction as a bridge without railings.
The estimated nearly $1 million project is not in the five-year plan. Gregg said funds can come out of the regular state aid construction account, so it will not affect anything in the current five-year plan. Bakke said we don’t have a choice. Commissioner Marc Prestby agreed, saying it needs to be done. Gregg added that traffic is increasing on that segment. A motion to move ahead with developing plans was approved. Gregg will be back at a later date with the plans to request board approval to advertise for bids.
Other business in brief
•A resolution for an amendment to the Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance, Section 604.05(9), Performance Standards in the Ag District was approved as recommended by the Planning Commission. The amendment will remove the restriction that did not allow construction of a dwelling on land with a crop equivalency rating greater than 65.
Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins said there has been no more feedback or comments from the public. All other restrictions in this section will remain in place. Commissioner Mitch Lentz added he has heard no controversy concerning the amendment.
•Approval was given for the 2020/2021 Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement. This includes funding for shoreland, septic treatment systems, local water management, and Wetland Conservation Act. The septic treatment systems portion is for 2020 only.
•Sarah Hall was hired as a replacement social worker in Public Health effective October 17.
•Sharon Miller was hired as a replacement case aide in Social Services effective October 16.