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Board corks York

Sun, Oct 29th, 2000
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By Mike McGrath
Monday, October 30, 2000

At last Tuesdays meeting, the County Board of Commissioners brought to an end the debate on the issue with York Township over whether the township should receive additional compensation for maintenance of its roads during the County Route 44 construction project.

In a change of position from the previous meeting, Board Chairman Gary Peterson cast the swing vote in a 3-2 decision to deny the claim. The Board had until October 26, 2000 to make a decision for or against the claim. After that date, any indecision on the Boards part would have required the county to pay the claim, as the county must act on claims within 30 days.

The only new testimony on the issue came from former township officer Charles Morgan. "All we had was a farmers agreement," asserted Morgan in referring to his agreement with former County Engineer Gene Ulring. "He told me he would take care of this in his office, that hed have trouble bringing this before the Commissioners (for payment)."

After the current county engineer Steve Voigt offered that he had no new information on the claim, Commissioner Don Boyum offered his opinion on a settlement. "Ive no foundation to pay or not to pay, but Gene evidently made an agreement. I propose we take the claim and divide it by 2, then subtract the engineering costs for which they received a credit, and pay the difference." Looking at County Attorney Matt Opat, Boyum inquired, "Will that work?"

To this, attorney Opat replied, "You need to have reasons why you are allowing or disallowing the claim."

After a brief discussion, Commissioner Duane Bakke repeated his action of the previous meeting and moved to disallow the claim in full. Commissioner Robert Underbakke seconded his motion.

To legitimize his action, Bakke gave eight reasons for the motion: 1) The township had been paid for haul road maintenance, 2) they had been paid for grader time, 3) they had been paid by contractors for additional damage, 4) no other townships knew of an agreement with Ulring to pay detour route costs, 5) the States statutes deal only with haul road compensation, not detours, 6) there is no precedent for this type of claim, 7) payment would indicate a change in county policy without criteria for future claims, and 8) both the County Attorney and the County Engineer recommended disallowing the claim.

At this point, Chairman Peterson announced that he would support Bakkes motion to deny payment. While he acknowledged that the people of York Township believe they have a legitimate claim, he also felt that the Board had to be fair with the people of Fillmore County. He recommended that after the vote, the county try to establish some conclusion about how this happened. Other commissioners did not seem in favor of this recommendation.

After commissioners Boyum and Helen Bicknese made their arguments for partial payment of the claim, the vote on the motion to deny the claim passed 3-2 with Bakke, Underbakke and Peterson for, and Boyum and Bicknese against.
Jailhouse Study

Sheriff Jim Connelly came before the Board to seeking permission to hire outside consultants, DLR Group, to conduct a study on the current jail facility and make recommendations on future expansion and modifications to the facility.

According to Connelly, the jail currently averages 20 prisoners per weekend and future expansion could provide opportunities to house up to 35 prisoners without having to hire additional personnel.

The Sheriff was requesting the board approve the expenditure of $2000 for the DLR Group to conduct a brief study, which would provide two meetings with the consultants and some line drawings showing potential ways for expansion.

The Sheriffs proposal brought on a broader discussion from the Board on how this study might be expanded to show how a new courthouse could be located in proximity to the jail.
Most of the commissioners, except for Commissioner Boyum, seemed to be in agreement that the study should be expanded. "Isnt our timetable pushed a little here?" Boyum asked.

To this Commissioner Bakke responded, " I disagree with that. Id like to know if they could look at the whole thing. We have to look at the costs."

Concurring with Bakke, Chairman Peterson added his opinion, "I would imagine that whatever else the Facilities Committee does (from now on), they will need this kind of information."

The Board postponed making a decision on the Sheriffs request until the DLR Group could be contacted to comment and quote on the expanded scope of the jail study.

Spring Valley Agreement

Michael Bubany, City Administrator of Spring Valley, brought before the board a draft Joint Powers Board Agreement between the Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Mower County SWCD, and the City of Spring Valley to conduct a study on flood control for the Spring Valley Creek Watershed.

The proposal for the flood study is a result of post-flood meetings last summer between the two counties and their conservation districts, the Corps of Engineers, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The intent is to develop a plan that could mitigate potential flood damage like that which occurred in June and July of this year.

The board made changes to the Agreement to clarify language regarding hiring staff, meeting times and financial obligations. County Attorney Matt Opat clarified that the Joint Powers Board could not bind the county to projects without the Board having the opportunity to give their specific consent.

Bubany will make tbe changes requested by the Board and return for signatures later. A joint meeting between the participants of the Agreement, which will include a road tour, will be held on November 9, 2000 in Spring Valley.

Other Business

The board also waded through a long list of administrative items and spent considerable time reviewing and evaluating an insurance cafeteria plan for county employees. Also, two different motions to purchase additional computer equipment for the Health Department and the Veterans office failed for lack of a second.

Other action included approving a conditional use permit for Amos Gingerich and Menno Yoder to operate a sawmill in Preston Township, denial of additional funding for the Chatfield ambulance service, and appointing Commissioner Helen Bicknese as a delegate to the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust.

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