The county’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is estimated to be about $4 million. At the July 13 board meeting County Administrator Bobbie Hillery reported that the first half of that funding has been received. The second half is expected to be received next year.
The board reviewed a document prepared by the National Association of Counties (NACo) during their meeting that notes how the funding can be used and how it can not be used.
The county will try to work with cities to determine their needs for police, fire, and ambulance. The NACo analysis states, “Any local government, including counties, that fail to comply with the federal law and related guidelines shall be required to repay the federal Treasury.”
The funds can be used for sewer, water, and broadband. Hillery said there will be updates regularly at board meetings. The deadline to spend the money is December 31, 2024.
Other business in brief
•A resolution was approved calling for a public hearing on August 10 on the approval of tax abatement for a G-Cubed Development, Inc. housing project in Lanesboro. The county board intends to abate 75% of its share of all new county taxes generated by the development. Before approving the abatement the county is required to hold a public hearing.
•A resolution to execute a Minnesota Department of Transportation grant agreement for federal airport expense reimbursement was approved. MnDOT is the pass through agency. The $13,000 will come directly from the Federal Aviation Administration and can be used to reimburse eligible airport expenses at the local airport. The agreement expires in 2025. The funds are awarded under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Pam Schroeder explained the funds can come over four years and there are restrictions on their use. There is no county match required. The board will be asked to approve the use of the funds at a later date.
•At the July 6 board meeting the board approved a language change in the zoning administrator’s job description. A certification regarding septic inspection was changed from “required” to “desired.” Because of the change the new job description was sent to David Drown Associates for reclassification. With the review of the job description, David Drown recommended the zoning administrator be reclassified to a Grade 12 from a Grade 13, due to a reduction in experience required and a reduction in working conditions and hazards without conducting septic inspections.
Commissioner Duane Bakke suggested there would be no reduction in hazards, as the ZA would still be required to spend a significant time out of the office to view complaints, collect data, take pictures, and more. Kristina Kohn, Human Resources, conceded the ZA will still spend about 20% of her time in the field. Bakke asked how much difference septic inspections make. Hillery suggested they do as they have had to hire contractors and part-time employees to do septic inspections.
Commissioner Mitch Lentz said it isn’t realistic to expect the ZA to do septic inspections. A motion to accept the recommendation of David Drown to reclassify the ZA from a Grade 13 to a Grade 12 was approved 3-2. Bakke and commissioner Marc Prestby voted no. There was some discussion, but no action about the possibility of paying a ZA with the septic inspection certification at a higher Grade.
•Justin Kraling was hired as a replacement property appraiser. He will start full time on or before November 1. He can be paid at the part-time rate prior to that date when he can come in for training.
•Ryan Welscher was hired as a replacement property appraiser, effective July 14.
•The Paid Time Off policy was approved, as there were no additional comments submitted. The Safety Committee had discussed the Personal Appliance policy and had not voiced any concerns; the policy was approved.
•A forfeiture property in Mabel was discussed. It has been maintained by the county since 2018. No one has purchased it, as is. The board decided to get bids for backfill and demolition of the house on it, so it could be offered as a bare lot. Bids will be considered at the July 27 meeting.
•The Jail Committee is expected to report at the August 3 meeting.