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County signs on to Zumbro Valley project

Fri, Sep 29th, 2006
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The Fillmore County Board unanimously agreed to enter into a Joint Powers Agreement with Olmsted County at the September 26 meeting. Olmsted County can then issue a tax-exempt Commercial Development Revenue Note in an amount not to exceed $6,000,000 and loan the proceeds to the Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center to finance some of the cost of construction and improvement of a residential center located at Wood Lake Park in Rochester.

Olmsted County requested help with the bonding capacity from Fillmore County. Each county has the ability to issue up to $10,000,000 of "qualified tax-exempt obligation" in a calendar year. Olmsted County will designate $4,700,000 and requested that Fillmore County designate the remaining $1,300,000. Olmsted County cannot designate the total $6,000,000 because they have already designated over $5,000,000 of their tax-exempt obligation for a hockey rink. Dick Miller, representing Wells Fargo Public Service explained that the tax-exempt notes will save Zumbro Valley at least 1.5% off the interest rate. The tax-exempt status allows a longer term fixed rate.

Dwight Heil, Executive Director of Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center, noted that the non-profit was started in 1965 and now serves about 4200 Olmsted and about 300 Fillmore County residents per year. Heil explained that the total cost of the project will be about $8,000,000. He said that Fillmore County would continue to be served through Fillmore County Community Support and Psychological Services.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud asked about the cost of the bond to the county. Michael Bubany of David Drown and Associates assured him that there would be no cost to the county. All costs will be built into the bonding. The note will be a special, limited obligation for Olmsted County. The note does not place a liability on either county. Bubany said that there would be no impact on the county's credit rating if there were a default on the note. The security for the note will be provided by Zumbro Valley. Bubany suggested that the counties are just acting as a conduit for Zumbro Valley to make the note more affordable.

Chairman Duane Bakke insisted that it could cost the tax payers if Zumbro Valley defaulted, since the county would still need the services provided by the facility. Social Service Director, Thomas Boyd suggested that all counties in the region need the services and any default would come back on all of them. Olmsted County will have only it's name on the bonds. The lender, Wells Fargo, takes all of the risk, not the counties. County Attorney Brett Corson agreed that Fillmore County will have no obligation or liability and it would not be assuming any new risk. The board's adoption of the resolution was contingent upon an agreement being worked out with the Fillmore County Attorney.

Domestic Violence

Kari Berg from Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Corrections encouraged commissioners to attend a training seminar for combating domestic violence on October 5 at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. The speaker will be Mark Wynn who is nationally known as a trainer for police, court officers, legislators, and health and social service providers. Commissioners approved a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. The resolution notes that "domestic violence is widespread, including one in three Americans who have witnessed an incident of domestic violence."

Citizen Input

Jane Gehrking of Pilot Mound Township updated the board about a 'town meeting' that had been held on September 25. Citizens in attendance voted (61, yes and 14, no) with an 81% majority to form an advisory committee to study the impact of campgrounds. Members of the committee will be unpaid volunteers and residents of Pilot Mound Township. She explained that the 'town meeting' was called by voters and that all of the township supervisors attended. One supervisor will serve on the new committee. The first meeting of the committee will be October 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the township hall. Commissioner Randy Dahl will attend.

Gehrking stated that a second vote was taken requesting that the township supervisors establish an interim ordinance for one year to allow time to study the impact of campgrounds. Fifty citizens voted 'for' and seventeen voted 'against.' Duane Bakke explained that the county isn't specifically studying the impact of campgrounds, but the Planning Commission and the Board are continually working on upgrading ordinances.

Rita LeDuc asked that the process of permitting be clarified for high density developments in agricultural areas. Bakke explained that there is no legal order.

Road Projects 2006

Highway Engineer John Grindeland updated the board on the progress of road construction. Fillmore Township requested that bridge #4885 be done before #4883 due to "use, condition and weight limitations." Grindeland noted that #4883 was scheduled to be done first due to its lower sufficiency score. Both bridges are federal projects. Grindeland explained that there is $200,000 of federal money available for a research project using an experimental beam structure. The research money and another $120,000 not used in another project in Peterson together make $320,000 available. The #4885 bridge will be scheduled now for 2007 and the #4883 bridge will be done in 2010.

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