The fact that the Fillmore County Airport project bid came in significantly higher than the the estimated budget was discussed at the county board’s April 27 meeting.
The county received one bid from Everstrong Construction for the T-hangar and taxilane construction project. The bid was about $550,000 higher than the estimated budget for the project of $1,249,602.50. The SEH engineering/planning firm was not recommending acceptance of this bid for the contract.
SEH has had discussions with the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and the project bidder in an effort to move the project forward. The FAA has signaled it is committed to the project. The project is to be covered 100% by federal dollars. Normally, 90% would be federal monies and 5% state and 5% county. With the recent American Rescue Plan funding, the state and county monies will be covered with federal dollars. The FAA will allow the May 3 deadline to apply for federal funds to be flexible. Pam Schroeder, airport coordinator, said the FAA, based on our operations, would like to see development at the airport. SEH suggests working with the current bidder is the best option going forward. Finally, Highway Engineer Ron Gregg was authorized to proceed with any negotiations and bring back an option to the next meeting for the board’s review.
The county is entitled to $150,000 per year which it accumulates for this kind of project. The cost of this project will likely result in the need to acquire additional entitlement funds (borrow from other allotments) resulting in additional years for pay back. Schroeder added there are some entities that are willing to borrow to us.
EDA website proposal
Fillmore County EDA Director Chris Hahn reviewed a proposal for a county EDA website. This site will focus on marketing and promotion. It will provide resources for both existing and potential residents and businesses that are looking to start, expand or relocate. It also will provide an additional means for promoting community events and activities within the county.
It will focus on businesses and promote agriculture, recreation, tourism, parks and trails. Plans include a free business directory and free listing for business space for sale, lease or rent. Communities will be responsible for creating content.
SMG Web Design, along with Hahn and guidance from the EDA board, will develop, coordinate and maintain the site. It will not require any additional county staff or resources. A four-year contract with SMG will cost $1,000 per year. Pages and events can be added at no charge. This would be a tool for the EDA to provide resources and connections for businesses, organizations, and families to live and thrive in Fillmore County.
The website will give some of the smaller communities the same voice as the larger ones. Several smaller communities do not have a Chamber of Commerce. Hahn said the role of the EDA is to make sure businesses have tools and resources available to them.
Commissioner Mitch Lentz asked if the contract has an opt-out clause. Commissioner Duane Bakke questioned how much of this kind of information is already available on the Fillmore County website. It was decided to have attorney Brett Corson review the contract and bring it back for the board’s consideration next week.
Other business in brief
• A bid from Rochester, Sand & Gravel in the amount of $1,531,684.33 was approved for the CSAH 15 project (from CSAH 44 south to Granger). There was only 1 bidder. The bid was about 3% less than the engineer’s estimate.
• 2021 rock bids were approved. Bids approved were submitted by Orval Sorum & Sons, Bruening Rock Products, and Milestone Materials.
• A Cattle (livestock) Pass Policy was discussed. The county has not had a policy for this to date. A Winona County policy was modified for Fillmore County. The policy sets the responsibility of the landowner and the county under various circumstances. Landowner responsibility for a new livestock pass is 30% of the cost if it is installed in conjunction with a highway construction project. The landowner is responsible for 70% of the cost for a new livestock pass when the roadway is not under construction. The policy will be brought back for a second reading and possible approval.
• Emergency Management Director Don Kullot reviewed the 2020 Emergency Management Performance Grant cost sharing agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The amount of the grant and matching requirement are each $20,822.
• Jail administrator Jamie Fenske reviewed the contract with the state for the Sentence to Serve program. The county’s cost for the two-year contract is $152,702.43, which pays for insurance and the salary of the crew leader. There was a general consensus that this a good program for the county.
• Sheriff John DeGeorge described the feedback his department has received due to the community outreach efforts concerning the jail study. There has been positive feedback on the YouTube video. The county board is expected to make a decision on the best option for the jail’s future sometime this summer. DeGeorge emphasized that the jail committee is made up of individuals from different backgrounds; no one gets to push their individual agenda.
• A conditional use permit for a country inn, owned by Derrick and Christine Hongerholt, section 10, Holt Township was approved. There was no opposition during the Planning Commission public hearing. The CUP was approved.
• An access permit to CR 8 for a field drive for Brad Krahn, section 18, Fillmore Township was approved.
• An access permit to CR 21 to relocate a driveway was approved for Eric Ruen, section 11, Carrolton Township. The old access will need to be removed.
• A one-year contract for the county attorney’s office to continue providing prosecution services to the city of Canton was approved. Attorney Corson noted most prosecutions are for offenses like DUI, assault, or disorderly conduct. The county provides like services to Mabel, Harmony, and Fountain.
• A request to upgrade the Automated Logic software for the courthouse, office building, and jail was approved at a cost of $8,890. Terry Schultz, facilities maintenance, said the current program is out of date. The new software will allow him to pull up the program from home on weekends.
• The Compensation Policy was approved with changes.
• Jacob James and Timothy Highum were hired as summer help for the Highway Department. They were rehires from last year.
• A resignation to retire for Jeffrey Brand, surveyor, effective September 7, was approved with thanks for his 12 years of service.
• A request to hire one summer helper for the Sanitation Department was approved.
• The resignation of Amy Hershberger, child support officer, effective April 29 was approved after six years of service. A request to advertise for a replacement child support officer was approved.
• Brittney Dahl was hired as a replacement Eligibility Worker effective May 17.