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Hazard Mitigation Plan moves forward


Fri, Aug 1st, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske and Bonestroo representative Corey Raymond presented the completed Fillmore County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan to the commissioners for public review at the county board's July 29 meeting. No one from the general public commented. Teske noted that this is the third public meeting focused on the mitigation plan.

Board members cited some errors and omissions on the demographic portion of the plan. Local city events, public equipment like a pumper truck, and some structures like the Canton Shop had been overlooked. Raymond and Teske made it clear that these omissions can be corrected without further public hearings. Teske stressed that the section entitled Goals, Objectives and Strategies is the core of the plan. This is the section that can determine the availability of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding.

Teske explained that FEMA expects some progress on the goals, objectives, and strategies over time, but doesn't expect all measures to be followed through on. Some things may not be accomplished due to lack of community support or funding. The plan will be reviewed after five years.

Raymond added that FEMA wants to know that the county has gone through the process that they wanted it to, in establishing the goals, objectives and strategies. Teske emphasized that the second key item is the adoption of the plan by the county and cities. If a city fails to adopt the plan, it will not be covered by the plan. Townships will be encouraged to adopt the plan, but can be covered by the county's adoption of the plan.

The board unanimously voted to refer the hazard mitigation plan for review to the Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM) and to FEMA. The plan will then be updated, if necessary, with comments from Minnesota HSEM and FEMA. The final step will be adoption by the county and the cities.

Citizen Corps Program

Teske asked for and received approval to accept a federal grant of $1,901 and to enter into an agreement with the state of Minnesota concerning the Citizen Corp Program.

Teske advised the board that there was a good amount of interest from local fire departments and ambulance services for the all volunteer program. She explained that if there were to be a large incident that could overwhelm first responders, then these trained volunteers could be activated to help and to allow the first responders to handle the most serious issues. She expects there may be as many as ten to fifteen volunteers per city.

The citizen corps volunteers would be trained and educated and would be directed not to go to a disaster area unless specifically requested by the county or a city. Teske stressed that part of their training would be that they were not to self deploy. She sees the program as especially important to Fillmore County which has limited resources. Teske added that the program may help in recruitment for fire and ambulance services.

Commissioner Marc Prestby was concerned about liability issues. Teske explained that there should be no liability issue until the volunteers are called or activated for a disaster. Then they would be volunteering for a city or the county.

Budget

The county board is in the process of reviewing proposed budgets from each of the department heads. Unfortunately, costs have been greatly inflated with energy related items, including tires, heating, lubricants, mileage cost and other oil related products.

Highway Engineer John Grindeland noted large increases in aggregate, road salt and brine solutions. He commented that if we get a brown winter, like we have had in the recent past with the exception of last winter, the costs will be less. However, last winter caused the highway committee to recommend increasing the volume of road salt purchased from 1,500 ton to 3,000 ton.

Grindeland expects that his proposed 2009 budget will be over $500,000 more than in 2008. Commissioner Duane Bakke replied that in the end there will need to be some enormous cuts. He cited the 3.9% levy limit increase imposed by the state. The levy increase in the proposed 2009 budget is now more than 14.82%

Public Health Director Sharon Serfling as of today sees the possibility of a huge budget increase. However, in past years her department has received several grants, which at this time, may or may not come through. Some of these grants that come from the state are competitive instead of being spread across the state. She said that her department has applied for a $197,500 competitive grant. Chairman Randy Dahl insisted, "Public health shouldn't be a basketball game with winners and losers." He was frustrated and maintained that grants shouldn't be awarded on a competitive basis.

Dahl asked Serfling what could realistically be expected from grants. Serfling replied that it is unknown. Bakke suggested that they should know by the time the preliminary budget is done in September.

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