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Road Impact Fee set

Fri, May 10th, 2013
Posted in All Government

The Fillmore County Board at their May 7 meeting set the amount for the road pavement impact fee for sand transport which is required (Ordinance 736) for industrial mining operations. Commissioner Tom Kaase participated via telephone as he was attending a three day Minnesota Public Safety Interoperable Communications Conference at St. Cloud.

The road impact fee was set by unanimous vote at 22 cents per ton per mile. County Engineer Ron Gregg noted he was comfortable with that rate. The fee was set so the required road maintenance agreement could be in place prior to the public hearing scheduled for the Rein Quarry CUP application on May 16 during the Planning Commission meeting. This rate will apply to any mining operation approved under Ordinance 736. The rate will be reviewed every two years.

Gregg explained that once the designated hauling route leaves the county, the mining operator will have to have an agreement with that county as well, unless they use only state roads. The separate county agreements could have separate fee structures.

Commissioner Duane Bakke said, “It is our own fault if we don’t get it done correctly.” In addition he explained that this is why they want all agreements in place before the hearing. The technical evaluation panel required by the ordinance to review the reclamation plan had met on May 6. Bakke was disappointed that people from state environmental related agencies (DNR and BWSR) failed to attend, adding they had asked to be part of the technical review.

During a telephone conversation later that day Bakke said he had a good discussion with MPCA commissioner John Linc Stine. Stine said he would ask the governor to review the Fillmore County ordinance for industrial mining. Bakke and Stine discussed the county’s moratorium and the process the county used to write the ordinance. Bakke admitted he had been disheartened by the earlier lack of response by the state regarding the ordinance. He wanted state officials to understand what Fillmore County has done so far. Some other counties are waiting for the state to make the decisions for them.

The Senate’s Omnibus Game and Fish Policy Bill, which has been moving through committees, met some criticism during the county board meeting. A provision that would not allow “frac” sand mining within a mile of any spring, ground water, seepage area, fen, designated trout stream. . . had been added by Senator Matt Schmit (21, DFL) and was removed in the Environment Finance Committee. An effort to again add the provision by Senator Katie Sieben (54, DFL) failed by a 11-10 vote.

Bakke believes the provision is a really bad idea as all sand pits are environmentally the same. He asked what is the environmental difference between a frac sand pit and a regular sand pit. He insisted the real difference lies with processing and transportation issues. He noted if the one mile setback provision became law and was later applied to all sand pits by simply crossing out the word “frac,” it could affect several non industrial pits in the county and lead to their elimination. However, it would not have any effect on the four proposed industrial sand sites near Pilot Mound to be operated by Minnesota Sands as they would be outside the proposed one mile limit.

Chairman Randy Dahl said the state hasn’t had any idea about the process the county went through during a nearly year-long moratorium. Citizens were given the opportunity to participate in developing the new ordinance during the monthly sand committee meetings that take place at least monthly. Many did participate on a regular basis.

Workers’ Compensation

Another legislative issue brought up by Commissioner Chuck Amunrud was the amendment to the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act being considered by the state legislature. The bill would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a covered occupational disease under workers’ compensation for any incident while on the job that wasn’t a pre-existing condition. The amendment was recommended by the Workers Compensation Advisory Council and has received support by both the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. If approved, this would be the first coverage of “mental” injuries without an accompanying physical injury.

Commissioners were concerned about the proposed legislation. Amunrud felt PTSD must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist and not just by a general practitioner. There seemed to be a feeling that the amendment could be easily abused by employees by just visiting their doctor and complaining of feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts to qualify for workers compensation.

Other Business In Brief

•Brent Kohn, Highway, asked for and received approval to purchase a replacement engine driven trash pump at the low quote of $11,500 plus tax, which is well below the estimated cost. The pump is used to fill the water truck and wash bridges. The old pump, which still runs, is to be sold at a Gehling Auction. Bakke complimented Kohn on the work they had done under difficult conditions to plow spring snow off area gravel roads.

•Ron Gregg said most of the furniture has been installed in the newly remodeled Highway Administration Building. Some used furniture was reused and the total cost of furniture was below the original quote. The board approved the removal of steel and residing of the east wall and the residing of the southern exposure for a total cost of $15,025. These options were chosen in to have consistent matching steel (the old steel cannot be matched) and to properly seal around the windows.

•Gregg noted there were five bids for the concrete surfacing project of CSAH 24. The low bid from Shafer Contracting Co. was approved at about $2,450,000, which was about one percent over engineer’s estimate. The work should take about 30 days and will be done sometime after May 28 and before October 4. The bid from Dunn Blacktop was approved to resurface CSAH 23. The bid was one percent under engineer’s estimate.

•Use of courthouse parking lots on June 13, July 11, and August 8 for Family Fun Night was approved.

•One custodial position will be increased from half time to full time. Terry Schultz, Maintenance, said the increase in hours is needed to cover an additional 9,000 square feet because of the Highway Administration Building remodel and the additional work added a year ago in the Law Enforcement Building.

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