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Olmsted and Fillmore boards discuss issues

Fri, Jul 28th, 2006
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County commissioners from Olmsted and Fillmore counties met at the Fillmore County Courthouse on Tuesday, July 25, to discuss common issues. The meeting coincided with the Fillmore County Board meeting.

Of primary concern was the operating shortfall at the Many Rivers Juvenile Detention Center in Rochester. Olmsted County Administrator Richard Devlin said that the center has an operating deficit of more than $500,000. Plans call for reducing the lock-up from 24 to 16 beds.

Devlin said that while they will lose approximately $100,000 in state aid by reducing the eight beds, they will be able to reduce operating costs as the lock-up requires more staff to operate.

"This should reduce costs by about one third," Devlin said. "We will be budgeting for less this year and next year."

While used primarily for Olmsted juveniles, area counties, including Fillmore, have placed youth in the facility, which also has a treatment component. In 2005, placements in the facility generated revenue from Fillmore ($5000), Dodge ($29,000), Houston ($27,000), and Olmsted ($297,000) counties. Fillmore County uses the facility on an as-needed basis.

Devlin said that space vacated at the facility will be used to host a program designed to keep juveniles out of placement.

Olmsted will know more about costs, including changes to per diem, when the Advisory Board meets on August 3.

Reciprocal Zoning

Fillmore County Board Chair Duane Bakke raised the issue of zoning regulations along joint county borders. Bakke gave the example of feedlot setbacks between Mower and Fillmore counties, making the point that there is a need to look at respecting neighboring county's regulations.

The discussion expanded to township zoning along county borders.

Olmsted commissioner Matt Flynn said that all of the townships north of Fillmore County have more restrictive zoning than Olmsted County. Bakke said the same is true with Fillmore townships along the Olmsted border, many of whom have moratoriums in place.

"If Olmsted County gets stricter, pressure is going to come into Fillmore County," Flynn said. "County lines mean nothing anymore."

Olmsted commissioner Paul Wilson urged Bakke to bring the issue to the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Other issues

• There was brief discussion about Olmsted's plans for expanding their waste-energy program. Olmsted chair Ken Brown said that it will only involve Olmsted and Dodge counties.

• The Clean Water Legacy program was also discussed. Legislation mandates that 50 foot buffers be enforced along Minnesota's shoreline. Olmsted commissioner Judy Ohly suggested that all 11 counties in southeast Minnesota look at working on this at the same time through the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board.

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