After an extended discussion over the chief deputy agreement at the July 25 board meeting, Kevin Beck was appointed chief deputy sheriff effective July 28 to replace recently retired Tony Webber. Beck has been with the department 22 years, currently serving as emergency manager/assistant jail administrator.
Beck will be leaving a Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) union position to accept the non-union position of chief deputy. The agreement allows him to retain his accrued seniority up to this point and gives him the option upon termination of the agreement to return to a deputy sheriff position with the seniority accrued prior to the agreement. No seniority will be accrued while serving as chief deputy.
Beck will start at the same salary Tony Webber was receiving at his retirement. Sergeant Don Kullot was appointed to the emergency manager/assistant jail administrator position.
Courthouse security grant
The Safe and Secure Courthouse Advisory Panel awarded a grant in the amount of $32,319 to the county for the installation of cameras/monitors/key card access points and panic alarms in the Fillmore County Courthouse and for training of court and county staff. The board accepted the grant and established a committee to make plans for installation of security equipment and to get prices on the equipment. The committee will have seven members: Sheriff Kaase, a court representative, County Attorney Corson, County Coordinator Vickerman, Commissioners Bakke and Lentz, and building maintenance supervisor Terry Schultz. With the county match there would be about $60,000 to be used for the security equipment.
Sheriff Tom Kaase had submitted the application and had hoped to receive grant dollars to help pay for a deputy to be assigned to the courthouse. However, no grant dollars were awarded for personnel.
Wheelage Tax approved
County Engineer Ron Gregg explained that the Wheelage Tax had been discussed at the Highway Committee meeting. The committee had recommended to forego the tax for a year and to reconsider it next year. Commissioner Mitch Lentz asked why we would not seek the additional revenue to maintain roads. Commissioner Duane Bakke said he had asked Gregg to put together information on the county’s roads and to look at actual funding. He added that Gregg does an excellent job of getting federal dollars. Bakke asked if we have the manpower to oversee more projects? He acknowledged that the committee doesn’t have the authority to make decisions for the county board.
Gregg explained that there are already “a lot of irons in he fire.” We are getting projects done (bridges and more seal coating) with Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) dollars. LOST dollars have provided between $600,000 and $700,000 more revenue for local road projects.
Lentz maintained that he didn’t trust the state government to help us out a lot. A Wheelage Tax could be up to $20 per vehicle. Gregg had estimated that a $20 Wheelage Tax would generate about $460,000 in additional revenue to maintain and improve the quality of the county road system.
Lentz insisted he was in support of a Wheelage Tax; “I’ve only heard of projects that we don’t have money for.” Bakke said we may need the more revenue to do the additional planned seal coating in future years. Lentz moved to adopt the resolution for a $20 Wheelage Tax. Commissioner Gary Peterson seconded the motion. Commissioner Marc Prestby stated he has been against the tax from the start and would vote against it. The motion passed, Prestby voted no. The tax will be implemented as of January 1, 2018.
Other business in brief
• Andrew Hatzenbihler was hired as Solid Waste Administrator effective August 11. One of the first issues the administrator will have to deal with is the continual misuse of the rural recycling bins. The bins are for the collection of recyclable items only.
• Social Services Manager Kevin Olson requested and received approval for renewal of the State of Minnesota Joint Powers Agreement. The five-year agreement allows access for the social services department to Minnesota Criminal Justice Data Communications Network. There is no cost to the county.
• The 2018 budget process began with review of proposed budgets for commissioners, coordinator, information systems, assessor, and surveyor. Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman noted the effort of departments to attain a zero change in budget. This is proving to be not only difficult, but not possible. Budgets are working with an estimated 14% increase in insurance costs and a possible 2.5% cost of living increase for employees. Absorbing these increases by reducing other budgeted items to get a flat budget is a goal, but not realistically attainable. Vickerman said we will work hard on it, but in some budgets there is no place to cut.
• With the second reading of the Employment of Relatives policy, it was approved.
The resignation of Troy Case, Property Appraiser, effective July 27 was approved. A request to hire from an active list for replacement was approved.
• The Truth in Taxation Hearing was set for December 12 at 6 p.m.
• Approval was given for a quote from Marco in the amount of $45,901.44 for the purchase of two servers and virtual desktop application to be paid for from Information Systems budget. Vickerman noted this will benefit the sheriff’s and highway’s offices.