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County to conduct feedlot inventory


Sun, Sep 10th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 11, 2000

At last Tuesdays Fillmore County Board meeting the new feedlot officer, Michael Fraunkron, received approval to conduct a Level 2 feedlot inventory. A feedlot registration program will begin immediately and cover all rural properties with 10 or more animal units.

As part of the implementation program of the countys feedlot ordinance, the registration will provide the zoning office with an inventory of feedlots throughout the county. A Level 2 feedlot inventory is a broader, more encompassing inventory which considers pollution impact on streams, rivers and lakes.

"Regardless of whether you need a permit or not, you must register if you have more than 10 animal units," explained Fraunkron.

According to the Fillmore County zoning ordinance, ten animal units is the equivalent of 10 beef cows and a feedlot is generally defined as an area where one would feed these cows to the extent that the grass and vegetation are worn away to exposed ground.

A conditional use permit is required for a feedlot with greater than 500 animal units. But according to Fraunkron, "a conditional use permit could be required for a feedlot of 10 animal units if it presented a pollution threat or it is located in a shoreland district."

Fraunkrons proposal, approved on a motion by commissioners Duane Bakke and Robert Underbakke, allows farmers to register without a fee until the end of this year. After that, a fee of $50.00 plus one dollar per animal unit will be charged. The initial fee waiver is to provide an incentive for farmers to come forward and register their animal feedlots.

Fraunkron also requested from the board the establishment of a feedlot advisory committee to review feedlots which have compliance problems, and to serve as advisors who can provide "solutions from a peer standpoint."

While Fraunkron was asking for the appointment of a new committee, commissioner Bakke made the recommendation that the countys planning commission actually serve in the feedlot advisory capacity. On a motion by Bakke and commissioner Donald Boyum, it was decided that any three members of the planning commission could serve as the advisory committee. As the planning commission is comprised primarily of farmers, this seemed to make sense to the board.

In other land use issues, the board approved conditional use permits for Charles Ruen to add another hog feedlot in Carrolton township; for David Swenson to operate a rock quarry in Newburg township, and for the Wykoff Cemetery Association to have access to county road 5.

Personnel


In what appeared to be a solemn mood, the board authorized the pay increase to step two for three account technicians in the countys system. This action was precipitated by the hiring of two new technicians in the auditors office at a pay step higher than the other existing account technicians already on the countys payroll.

Coordinator Karen Brown articulated that the increases were due to an administrative error, and that the action to increase the other employees was the "least damaging step to take." The increases were approved on a motion by commissioners Bakke and Boyum, with little discussion.

Simultaneously, the board took action to amend the countys policies and procedures for filling vacancies, creating new job classifications and descriptions, and setting the compensation of new hires.

Through a somewhat lengthy discussion spearheaded by commissioner Bakke, the board carefully crafted the language of the policies in an effort to clarify how and when the county can hire new employees and give them credit for their education and experience.

Under the amended policies, specific criteria with regard to special credentials such as skills and experience, and even market availability in relation to the countys need for certain specialized jobs, will be used to determine when the board might hire someone at a pay rate higher than step one.
Sanitary waste

Resource Recovery manager Jon Martin presented the board with a report of the activities at his center for the first half of 2000.

According to Martin, "Considerable activity goes on out there. There are a lot of people who use the facility."

Martins report showed that the volume of tons deposited for the landfill had increased over 1999, but that the volume deposited for compost and demolition was down. He attributed the decrease in demolition wastes to competition from Veit Disposal in Rochester, which offers a sorting service and lower tipping rates.

Martin also informed the board that he had received only one proposal for waste services in response to the countys request for proposals. As part of the countys on-going efforts to restructure its resource recovery department, contractors were invited to submit proposals to haul landfill material and recyclables out of the county.

The only proposal received came from Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), the worlds largest garbage corporation. Their proposal would eliminate the composting operation and haul the landfill and recyclables from Preston to other facilities.

Despite rumors circulating in the county, residents should continue to sort their compostables, landfill and recyclables separately until the county instigates a new plan.

Budget


As the morning hours faded into the afternoon hours, the board worked diligently to come to closure on the 2001 county budget.

The draft budget still showed a hefty 16% increase in the levy, an amount which seemed unsatisfactory to all members.

"If other counties can do it for less than 10%, then so can we," exclaimed commissioner Bakke in reference to the levy increase.

In what often seemed like an endless, vicious circle, the board struggled for over an hour on how to lower the increase. A key question in the discussion was whether to use county reserves to make up the deficit, or to require certain departments to make cuts.

Possibly mistaking quiet frustration for just plain weariness, chairman Gary Peterson asked the group if they should come back to the budget issue next week. But, at the insistence of commissioner Helen Bicknese, and after a short break for food, the work continued into the midafternoon.

In the end, perseverance paid off and the board was able to come up with a package which combined additional cuts in spending with the limited use of reserves to come up with an overall 8.9% levy increase for the year 2001.

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