"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Change is good

Sun, Jul 23rd, 2000
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Monday, July 24, 2000

The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners dealt with a full slate of policy and administrative items at its weekly meeting last Tuesday.

Putting to rest some old business, the board approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for Dan Miller to operate two saws as a one-sawmill site on 2.5 acres in Amherst Township. The CUP did not come easy, however, as nine conditions were placed on the owner to help alleviate the impact the operation will have on the surrounding neighbors, road and environment.

Besides the conditions placed on the CUP by the planning commission: a 50 foot clear area setback from the road; no standing or parked trucks on the road; a maximum site size of 2.5 acres; and both driveways always open, the board also added five conditions of its own.

The board's conditions require the operator to "substantially" remove the sawdust from the site each week; have no more than 35 slab bundles stored at the site at any time; have no more than two saws operating at the site; use the township road to the west as the designated haul route; and control dust on the road to the satisfaction of the township board.

Social Services

Social Services director Tom Boyd was before the board to discuss his departments budget. Faced with rising costs, specifically in the child home placement sector of services, Boyd informed the board that a levy increase of 10% would probably have to be penciled into the budget for 2001.

Boyds office placed 26 children in temporary homes during the first six months of this year, and the cost of that work amounted to $214,000 of the $250,000 of expenditures for his office. Besides the child placement costs, the social services department is also experiencing increased personnel hours per caseload. The Fillmore county average is 240 hours compared to a state average of 120.

The board listened intently as Boyd presented his arguments for increasing the levy amount for social services by nearly $87,000. The 2000 levy was $868,744.

"If you had 10% (increase) would you be back the next year with 2 to 3 percent?" inquired Commissioner Duane Bakke.

"Probably," Boyd said. "There have been years when we didnt increase the 2% and should have."

To which Chairman Gary Peterson acknowledged that in the past the county has "gotten caught with our levies down."

No action was taken at this time on the social service levy.

Highway matters

County engineer Steve Voigt sought approval and signature authority from the board for an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a contract for archaeological excavations to be done at the site of a bridge to be replaced on County 8 in Fillmore Township.

The state historic preservation office requires the excavations be done and the county will incur 20% of the costs, or about $1000. The study was triggered by Federal funding requirements. On a motion by commissioner Donald Boyum, the contract was approved.

In other highway department business, Voigt sought and received approval from the board to reclassify engineering technician John Schmidt to senior engineering technician and to advertise the position which Schmidt would be vacating.

The county engineer also requested authorization to contract out repair work required by recent flood damage. Silt cleanup, repairing gravel shoulders and slide cleanups were all cited as extra work the county needs to have done and which is reimbursable with federal emergency management funds. On a motion by commissioner Boyum, approval was granted for Voigt to obtain bids for the work that needs to be done.

Courthouse committee

As part of its on-going decision process on what to do with the county courthouse, the board finalized its appointments of citizens to a facilities evaluation and planning committee. The committee will work with the board to advise how, or even whether, to remodel the courthouse.

Each commissioner selected two citizens from their district to serve, with appointments made as follows: District 1: Doug Johnson and Glen Kopperud; District 2: Stafford Hansen and Margaret Perkins; District 3: Mert Root and Deb Staley; District 4: Dan Christianson and Bridget Eickhoff; and District 5: Larry Miller and Charles Dennstedt. The appointments will receive per diem and mileage compensation for meetings and serve until the end of this year.

Seating arrangement

Before adjournment, commissioner Don Boyum initiated a discussion on the current seating arrangement of the commissioners in their normal courthouse meeting room. Boyum noted that the current arrangement, which has the chairman at the end of the table with two commissioners on each side of him facing each other, places two commissioners with their backs to any visitors in the audience.

A discussion ensued on how to solve this dilemma without returning to the old arrangement of all five board members facing the audience but unable to really see each other without looking hard to the left or right while leaning either forward or backward.

It was decided to move the meeting to the wider, and somewhat larger, old zoning office down the hall.

From the move, it is hoped that a new, u-shaped table arrangement in the wider room will eliminate the need for commissioners to have to look hard to the left or right to see the other commissioners, wont require as much forward or backward leaning, and would certainly put an end to at least two of the commissioners having their backs turned towards the people in the audience.

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