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County works through annual housekeeping agenda

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in All Government

At the first meeting of the county board in 2014 the board completed its annual housekeeping chores. Chuck Amunrud was elected chairman and Duane Bakke was elected vice-chairman.

Amunrud, near the close of the meeting, highlighted a couple of issues he would like to see resolved during 2014. He suggested that the Community Services Committee will need to look at the real numbers the county will be faced with if they continue providing home health care. He clarified that he is not against the continuation of the service, but they need to look at the reality and the financial ramifications. What will it cost and how will it affect the levy? Because of the Affordable Care Act they should look at part time positions, what is in the law, and what it will mean to continue providing home health care.

Secondly, the Highway Committee should consider what a Wheelage Tax would be used for if the board adopted one. He noted there are three digit roads that need repairs and maintenance that are not funded through the state. A policy for use of the revenue from a Wheelage Tax needs to be adopted before adopting the tax. The county has bridges that need to be closed or turned back. Amunrud hoped that during this year they can come to an agreement with the DNR on the section of CR 118 which lies within the borders of Forestville State Park.

Citizens Input

Merwood Storhoff, Lanesboro, insisted that the county attorney and zoning administrator have obstructed his complaints concerning the Sorum Quarry. He said he has tried over the last four years to work it out in private. Commissioner Randy Dahl said he had looked into Storhoff’s complaint and advised him to take the issue to court, calling it an intractable difference suggesting court is the place to settle it. Amunrud told him to see the county attorney. Brett Corson was in the room and agreed to talk to Storhoff.

Bakke later said the quarry is totally in compliance with state and federal rules.

Other Business In Brief

•The newly hired Social Services Manager Neva Beier made her first appearance before the board. The Transportation Services contract with SEMCAC was approved. The county has again agreed to pay for the unloaded miles (28 cents per mile) for Medicaid clients to volunteer drivers to help retain their service. Federal funds do not reimburse expenses for unloaded miles. A contract with Lisa Stensrud was renewed for physical therapy services for Medicare clients.

•Anthony Webber was re-appointed Chief Deputy Sheriff for 2014 at an annual salary of $71,051.49.

•Sheriff Daryl Jensen explained that non-narrow bandable radios are no longer of any use to the department. The Jail Committee had recommended that the 22 obsolete radios be donated to a ham radio group. The donation was approved.

•Options were discussed to provide nursing service to the jail population which averages of late only eight to ten inmates at a time. One option is to contract with Houston County who has a jail nurse. It would cost Fillmore County about $20,000 to share the nursing services for eight hours per week. A second option contracting with a business called Advanced Correctional Health Care would not be feasible costing about $34,000.

Commissioner Tom Kaase said Public Health should provide the service as they are conveniently just across the street. Jensen maintained that there is value in having a nurse who knows how to work with inmates. Jensen agreed to discuss the possibility with Lantha Stevens at Public Health.

•The purchase of regional radio and phone logging equipment for the Sheriff’s Department was approved at a cost of an estimated $53,457. The equipment will record and log radio and phone calls and be accessible through the web. Several counties will be partnered. Funding will come from 911 funds.

•The 2014 non-union pay plan with a 1.5 percent increase was approved. The 2014 merit pay plan with a 2 percent increase was approved.

•After considerable discussion minimum elected official salaries were set as required by state statute for those filing for elected office in 2014 at 90 percent of current salaries. In the past the minimum had been set at 85 percent of current salaries. Commissioner Marc Prestby argued that long serving elected officials have acquired a working knowledge that has additional value. Prestby voted against.

•A portion of tax forfeiture monies will be used for maintenance of the county parks as they have been in the past.

•The per diem rate was raised $5 to $45 per day. In conjunction with the per diem discussion Bakke maintained that commissioners should attend meetings in person rather than participate by phone. He argued that it is our obligation to be there, participate in person, and set an example for others that volunteer to serve on a committee. Prestby agreed that commissioners should participate in person. Dahl said that if a meeting time is rescheduled, participating by phone may be the only option other than not participating at all.

•Flu shots will be paid for by the county as an employee benefit for county employees.

•The county’s website was approved for use as an alternative method to disseminate bids.

•The Fillmore County Journal offered the lowest bids and was approved for 2014 printing of the financial statement, delinquent taxes, and legal notices.

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