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Board requests details on recovery zone bond allocations


Fri, Oct 9th, 2009
Posted in Government

Cris Gastner, Economic Development Authority (EDA), talked over with the Fillmore County Board the possibilities and limitations of the Recovery Zone Bonds allocated for Fillmore County at the board's October 6 meeting. The bonds are a possible finance ability created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or better known as federal stimulus money.

Fifty-five Minnesota counties and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were allocated a portion of the Recovery Zone Bonds. Fillmore County has been allocated $861,000 for public infrastructure projects, Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds (RZEDB) and $1,291,000 for Recovery Zone Facility Bonds (RZFB) which are to be used for private investment for economic development and job growth.

Gastner said the bonds must be issued by January 1, 2011. Counties have the jurisdiction for the bonding authority, not cities. Gastner thinks cities would have to enter into a joint powers agreement with the county to participate in the allocations. The definition of a "recovery zone" is somewhat fluid according to Gastner. He remarked that the program was put together so quickly that not all guidelines are cemented. There could be multiple "recovery zones" within the county.

Commissioner Duane Bakke insisted they need to determine what would be eligible and what would not be. One of the possible qualifications to define a recovery zone would be an area with "significant poverty, unemployment, rate of home foreclosures, or general distress." There is a time pressure here. If the county would not use any or all funds, it needs to reallocate the undesignated funds so they may be used elsewhere before January 2011.

The county may use its allocation of RZFB on qualified projects or reallocate to cities, EDA or HRA entities within the county or waive all or part of the total allocation. If the allocation is not to be used, it would be reallocated to the state. Projects in the private arena could be in commercial, tourism, manufacturing areas and more.

EDA

The board approved a revolving loan request for Jennifer Mulhern for the Touch of Nature Massage and Salon. The county EDA committee recommended approval with two conditions including the borrower's cash input of $1,000 and the provision of some collateral for the EDA note. A building to use for the home based hair salon/massage therapy business will be built on the Mulhern's home site. The EDA loan will be $9,000 at 4% interest amortized over seven years. The salon/massage therapy studio will be located along Highway 16 west of Preston.

Other Business In Brief

• A conditional use permit for a feedlot confinement building on the Holst Cattle Farm in Carrolton Township, Section 26, was approved as recommended by the Planning Commission. Feedlot Officer Mike Frauenkron said questions posed by neighbors were answered to their satisfaction. Bakke described the feedlot as a large confinement building with a manure pack. The structure completely controls run off.

• The board approved the Community Social Service Act plan which is a biennial service agreement. Social Service Director Thomas Boyd said the plan has to be approved to receive state and federal funding through the Children and Community Services Act (CCSA) and the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP).

Boyd noted if there is more than a 10 percent change in funds for the next year, the plan will have to be amended. He expects about a 7 percent reduction in the state's funding due to unallotment. This pushes more fiscal responsibility onto the county. A reduction in funding will force a reduction in services by using, where possible ,less expensive options.

• A Public Health Emergency Response (PHER) contract for grant funds was approved unanimously by the Fillmore-Houston Joint Board of Health. The grant funds total $18,000 for each county. The federal funds are to be used for costs associated with the H1N1 pandemic, but can be used for any public health emergency.

Sharon Serfling, Public Health, said they have a conference call with the state each Monday for updates on H1N1. The first batch of vaccine will be in the mist form and available for EMT, emergency and intensive care personnel. Fillmore County will get 100 doses with the first batch. Eventually, an injectable vaccine will be available. Additional quantities of seasonal flu vaccine will be available by end of November. Notices will be placed in newspapers.

Serfling praised parents for doing a good job so far of keeping their sick children at home.

• The board approved the purchase of a smaller hoist for the highway shop for vehicles under 10,000 pounds from Car Quest, Caledonia, at the low quote of $3,072.66.

• A resolution was adopted making October 5-9, 2009, Drive Safely Work Week. This is a traffic safety campaign to reduce traffic related deaths and injuries.

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