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County Board passes resolution on Hwy 52


Fri, Jun 8th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The county board passed a resolution in support of immediate reconstruction of the deteriorating Highway 52 Corridor from the I-90 Interchange to Fountain at their June 5 meeting. The resolution requests that MnDot move forward to "analyze the project, secure funding, and reconstruct the TH 52 Corridor." Representative Ken Tschumper called the recent state legislative session a "mixed session." He was especially discouraged over the Transportation Bill and he was dismayed that we ended up with a "lights on only" transportation bill. Obviously, no funds are likely to be available to reconstruct any part of TH 52 north of Fountain.

Commissioner Duane Bakke made it clear that the state is missing out on a lot of federal matching dollars in the amount of about four billion dollars. This money could have been available if the state would have come up with their part of the money. Tschumper insisted that he would again introduce a bill to raise the gas tax in February to get a large infusion of state and federal money to reconstruct and rehabilitate state roads.

The resolution in support of TH 52 reconstruction will be sent to the governor, lieutenant governor, and legislators.

Thomas Boyd, Social Services, discussed along with Rep. Tschumper the MR/RC (Mental Retardation or Related Conditions) Waiver and the repayment for overspending in 2004 and 2005 requested by the state. Tschumper suggested that it looks like Fillmore County has been forgiven that debt with the recent Health and Human Services Bill. The county overspent by 5% and Bakke suggested that it was still unclear if all the debt was forgiven.

Fillmore County along with about eleven other counties overspent partially because of a reduction of allocated funds in 2003 and the inability to cut people out of the program by law. MR/RC Waiver program was intended as an alternative to institutional care. There is about a $22,000 cost savings per person, but there also has been a large increase in the number of cases.

Tschumper was frustrated with the inability to put more state dollars into nursing homes. He added that care costs about $20 per person more per day than provided. He claimed that twenty-five percent of nursing homes are in financial risk. Tschumper said that it "takes a lot of money to make up for years of neglect." Boyd agreed that it is a real problem.

Levy Initiative

Wayne Stenberg, Bluff Country Housing Redevelopment Authority (BCHRA), gave a presentation detailing their accomplishments, goals, and potential benefits to Fillmore County. Among the goals is to provide rehab loans for qualified home owners and to preserve affordable housing units. Some rehabs would be aimed at the elderly, allowing them to have their home made more accessible, and keeping them in their home. He suggested that by participating the county could increase investment and property values and stabilize towns and improve housing.

Mike Bubany, David Drown Associates, offered the time line for the levy proposal. The levy would be a separate line item on tax statements. He stated that the debt would be issued on a revenue basis and would not put the county at risk. The goal would be to provide 30 owner occupied single family rehab loans. The average loan expected to be $7,500 on a ten year term with a 5% fixed rate. To qualify a home owner must be earning 80% of county median income or less. Also, twenty current rent controlled units could be protected from going to market value and kept as affordable units for low income residents.

Commissioner Randy Dahl suggested that they work with the EDA. Bakke asked that they give the presentation to the EDA so that they can give their recommendation. The EDA will hear the presentation at their meeting in the last week of June.

Zoning

A Conditional Use Permit was approved for Big Springs Quarry, Harmony Township as recommended by the Planning Commission. Norman Craig, Zoning Administrator, stated that it was just a name change for an existing quarry. A second CUP was tabled for Lanesboro 250 Sandpit, Carrolton Township. Both are owned by Knife River Midwest, LLC, represented by Shawn Krivachek and Curt Roverud of Decorah, Iowa. Duane Bakke added an additional condition that no dynamic air braking (jake brakes) may be used because of a subdivision located nearby. Dust control is also required. The permit for the Sandpit was tabled because it is required to have a "reclamation plan" on file at the Zoning Office. Once that condition is met the board will again consider the permit.

Pandemic Exercise

Deborah Teske, Veteran Services and Emergency Management, presented information about a program with Houston County for cooperation and planning in case of a pandemic. Teske explained that it is an effort to work together and function in the event that 30 to 40 % of employees do not come to work. The counties may need to rely on each other. All department heads and commissioners will meet at Eagle Bluff on July 10 for information and exercises.

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