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Commissioners Report: Future airport project may be moved ahead

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County Commissioners adopted an airport plan for future hangers at the county airport at their February 27 board meeting. Highway Engineer John Grindeland explained that it was just a 'floor plan' or a layout for how future hangars will be "aligned on the ground." The approximately six acres are now being rented out as farmland. Next year the land will be seeded down to grass, so that it is available to be leased to individuals who want to sign twenty year leases and build their hangar. Individuals leasing the lots are responsible for developing their lot.

Grindeland reviewed the many improvements to the airport grounds over the last four years at a total cost of about $600,000. Most of the improvements, including taxi-ways and roads in front of the existing hangars, were paid for with federal monies; 95% federal, 5% county. He suggested that the federal aid was drying up.

Commissioner Randy Dahl stated that 2009 plans for the airport include a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) building. Federal funds are not expected to be available to help with the structure in that year. Dahl maintained that it would not be realistic for the county to fund the project 100%. However, Grindeland said that the Office of Aeronautics recently had some money replaced by the governor that had been borrowed for other state needs in recent years. Therefore, there is a short window of opportunity when there is a possibility of receiving a 50-50 cost share from the state for the FBO project. The project would have to be done later in 2007 and since money was not budgeted for it, the county's share of the money would need to come from the general fund. Grindeland estimated that the total cost to the county would be about $60,000 to $65,000.

The county would own the structure and it would be used by individuals doing services and mechanic work. The county would make revenue off the tenant or tenants as a percent of the business revenue would go to the county. Grindeland acknowledged that there has been some interest from possible tenants. The county would be paid back for their input monies over the years from their share of the revenue. Dahl suggested that the state cost share funds may not be available in 2009.

Dahl said that on this day, they were just asking for permission to reserve funds from the state while they were still available. Grindeland stated that the county would need to have a plan and have funds encumbered by July 1. The board directed John Grindeland to solicit the funds and asked the Airport Committee to work on a plan of action before the end of May 2007.

Grindeland was also granted permission to ask for quotes for maintenance of the terminal building at the airport. The board also passed a resolution in support of transportation funding.

Emergency Management

Ordinance Public Hearing

Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske came prepared to field any questions about the draft ordinance. No citizens were present to question the ordinance. A letter was read by Chairman Marc Prestby from Deb Zimmer, City Administrator of Spring Valley. She had sent a copy of the letter dated February 14 to third district county commissioner, Chuck Amunrud. Amunrud set up a meeting with Teske and the Spring Valley Emergency Management team. They had concerns about some of the language and wanted further clarification. Teske explained that Minnesota State statute spells out exactly what is expected of the Emergency Management Director. She noted that state statute overrides the county ordinance.

The Spring Valley team was concerned about who was in charge. Teske said that depending on the emergency, the person most suited to handle the emergency will be in charge, sometimes police, sometimes fire personnel, and so on. She made it clear that the county doesn't take over, but coordinates the response. However, if a city wants to be covered by the county, then they can sign an agreement with the county to that effect. Some additional language was added to the draft ordinance concerning a deputy director and the changes are satisfactory to Spring Valley.

Because of the changes, Teske will e-mail the changes to the cities and ask them to notify her of any further concerns within a week. After concerns are met, then a notice will again be put up for another public hearing for the revised ordinance.

Other Business

• Social Service Director Thomas Boyd asked the board to accept the resignation of a financial worker as of March 1. Until a replacement is hired the office will be short and he asked for and received approval for overtime and emergency help.

• Doug Lambert, Director of the joint powers of Dodge, Fillmore, and Olmsted Community Corrections (DFO) asked the board to approve their contribution to the joint powers budget. Lambert expressed his support for a nickel per drink excise tax to help fund drug treatment and corrections.

• Attorney Kelly Wagner asked for and received approval to upgrade the copier for the attorney's office. The copier will be leased through Metro Sales for $144 per month.

• The board approved a resolution to adopt changes to Sections 1 through 5 of the Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance as recommended by the Planning Commission. A public hearing was held February 15 by the Planning Commission on the changes. The Planning Commission is continuing work to review the entire ordinance.

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