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County Board looking for reform in government


Fri, Jan 16th, 2009
Posted in Government

Another list of housekeeping items dominated the second county board meeting of the new year on January 13. An informal discussion among the commissioners gave glimpses of possible reforms and planning to further control costs and to better work with state government.

Commissioner Duane Bakke referred to the AMC's Redesign Project while discussing the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) which is a statewide organization that works for the 87 counties. He suggested that Governor Pawlenty and some legislators are interested in the ideas of reform touted by the AMC.

The Redesign Project put forth by the AMC is an effort to reform the workings of state and county governments and to improve the cooperation between them. The effort hopes to have it made clear which level of government is responsible for what. Counties want flexibility in carrying out state mandates seeking more efficiency in serving local citizens.

Bakke serves as second vice-president for the AMC which puts him in line to be president of the organization. The project wants to develop transparency and innovative ideas to improve the relationship between the state and county government. The whole idea of reform is to make governments work better together and more efficiently over the long term.

Highway

• The resignation of David Nelson, Maintenance Superintendent, was accepted with regret and thanks for 38 years of service.

John Grindeland noted that improvements to Highway 52 from Fountain to Marion will be done in 2009. The section from Fountain to Chatfield will receive a "super overlay" including the shoulders with no future plans for reconstruction so far. The stretch from Chatfield to Marion will also get an overlay with plans for reconstruction some years after that.

Other Business In Brief

• Social Service Director Thomas Boyd received approval for the 2009 Medical Assistance transportation contract between the county and Semcac Volunteer Driver program. Driver reimbursement for medical trips is paid for by federal Medical Assistance. No county money is spent for this program.

A cooperative agreement for 2009-2010 between the County Attorney and Law Enforcement was approved. This agreement in necessary to get federal reimbursement (66% of total cost) for authorized expenses for child support services. The county pays the other third of the costs.

A resolution was approved asking for more time from the state to get into compliance with the state on pay equity. In the county's 2008 report to the state, the county was found out of compliance. If the county is not in compliance by February 16, penalties may be assessed against the county. The board took steps to come into compliance. However, to come fully into compliance would require salary adjustments which would cause "significant budgetary hardships due to the 2008 reductions in aid from the state of Minnesota."

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