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County aims for 5 1/2% levy increase


Fri, Sep 8th, 2006
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The Fillmore County budget for 2007 was again a topic for discussion at the September 5 board meeting. County Coordinator Karen Brown briefly reviewed the numbers. She explained that the numbers were not final, but the levy increase needed to be below 8%. She noted that the various department heads had voluntarily made cuts of more than $75,000.

Chairman Duane Bakke advocated using up to $200,000 of the money held in reserves. He praised department heads for doing a good job keeping costs under control. Using these monies left in reserve would allow the levy increase to be limited to 5 or 6%.

Commissioner Marc Prestby said that he'd like to see the levy increase held at 5%. Brown suggested that 5 1/2 % would likely hit the mark. She listed cost increases in the areas of wages, insurance, and fuel and transportation.

By consensus the board agreed to authorize up to $200,000 of monies in reserve to be used to balance the budget. Bakke added that if that allowed them to get to 5%, 'so be it.' Commissioner Chuck Amunrud noted that the preliminary budget needs to be set next week.

Zoning

Zoning Administrator Norman Craig asked for and received approval for some drive-way permits; David and Tammy Schoppers, Section 28, Carimona Township and Thomas Kappers, Section 23 and 24, York Township. A Conditional Use Permit was approved for the Daniel Detweiler Cemetery, Section 28, Bristol Township. The existing Amish cemetery has a high water table. A small number of old grave sites in the existing cemetery will be moved to the new cemetery. The old cemetery will be decommissioned.

Pilot Mound

Commissioner Randy Dahl suggested that Norman Craig explain the process and zoning rules to the public at the next Planning and Zoning meeting on September 14. He feels that it would help make the public more knowledgeable and answer some questions. Considerable opposition and controversy has developed over a proposed 49 site campground along the Root River in Section 20, Pilot Mound Township. At the request of opponents to the campground, a ten minute time period has been allotted for statements. Mike Tuohy has agreed to allow the statements from the public opposing the campground. Bakke pointed out that Tuohy is allowing the statements because of his (Tuohy) belief that ordinances need continual upgrading. Bakke doesn't believe the citizen statements should be part of the upcoming meeting, since it isn't a public hearing on the subject.

Memorandum of Understanding

A proposed agreement between Fillmore and Mower Counties was discussed. Bakke described the proposed agreement as a "gentleman's agreement" between two county boards and not a change in the respective ordinances. Board members hope to have the agreement in place so as to encourage both counties to enforce their own ordinances that require a 1,000 foot setback of dwellings from feedlots, even when a dwelling may be located in one county and the feedlot in the other.

County Attorney Brett Corson agreed that the memorandum would not be enforceable, but would be an informal agreement for each county to honor the other's ordinances at the boundaries. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud noted that Mower already has a similar agreement with a bordering Iowa county. It was decided to look at this and other possible agreements with bordering counties.

Rural Businesses

Norman Craig and commissioners discussed some possible clarification to the ordinance for rural home based businesses. Bakke said that changes to the ordinance are to be discussed at the Planning Commission. Craig explained that it is important to preserve the "ag character" in rural areas. This is a beginning point to get people thinking.

Commissioner Stafford Hansen offered his opinion stating, "If I own land, I should be able to do within reason what I want to do with it." Craig replied to that with the question, "What is within reason?"

Bakke felt that a "homebased business" needs to be defined. Craig stated that homebased activities should remain small in scale. Corson agreed that they should be limited in size. Bakke stated that this isn't easy, but that Stafford Hansen's limits and my limits are two different limits.

Amunrud asked Corson if he thought our present ordinances are working. Corson replied that 98 or 99% of these businesses are doing well without disputes and problems. This suggests that the ordinances are working well.

Mayo Clinic Self Help

Commissioners approved the purchase of the Mayo Clinic self help book for each county employee. Each book will cost $4.95. Karen Brown noted that money from the tobacco suit will be used to purchase the wellness books.

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