County says no to state
The Faribault County Board voted unanimously to tell the State of Minnesota to keep ownership of State Highway 109.
Doug Hader of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) office in Mankato had previously asked the board to accept the state’s offer to “turn back” ownership of the road to the county.
Hader was back at last Tuesday’s county commissioner meeting asking for a decision that day.
The answer was no, the county was not interested in taking over the highway.
Before taking the vote, board members asked Hader if plans to reconstruct the highway would be affected by their decision.
“No,” Hader says. “The latest information that I have is that yes, we will be doing the reconstruction whether there is a turn back or not.”
Hader says the highway, which runs across Faribault County from Winnebago to Wells, is set to be rebuilt in two stages.
The section from Highway 169 in Winnebago, to County Road 17 will be rebuilt in 2012. The section from County Road 17 to Highway 22 in Wells is set for work in 2015.
“I appreciate that you have been up front and straight with us,” County Board chairman Tom Warmka told Hader. “But, under the current circumstances, I don’t believe we are in a position to take on a long term project like this.”
Other commissioners echoed Warmka’s remarks.
“We can barely maintain the roads we have now,” says Commissioner Bill Groskreutz, Jr. “Much less be adding to our costs.”
A report from county engineer John McDonald included information that substantiated the increase in road maintenance costs.
McDonald says snow and ice control costs for the county have increased to $450,000 in 2010, nearly double what they were in 2004.
“Most of the increase is due to fuel costs,” McDonald told the board. “We budgeted $90,000 for fuel in 2004, and it is $250,000 in our 2011 budget.”
The county highway department uses 60,000-65,000 gallons of fuel a year, the county engineer says.
In other business at the board meeting last Tuesday morning, the commissioners;
• Voted to purchase three used semi-trailers at a cost of $3,000 each. The trailers will be placed at three locations around the county and used for storing recyclables and appliances dropped off by rural residents.
• Voted to spend $5,500 to hire a firm, Gallagher Benefits, to work with the insurance committee and help the county determine what kind of health insurance to choose.
“It will keep us from making big mistakes,” County Auditor/Treasurer says.
• Voted unanimously to not extend the practice of allowing employees to take up to 22 days per year of unpaid time off.
Commissioner Tom Loveall says the situation was not acceptable to many employees when it was a mandated furlough situation.
• Voted to move forward with a GIS mapping of the county.
The project involves hiring Snyder Corporation to furnish the GIS mapping and computer programs.
Part of the project involves planes flying over all of the county and photographing every detail.
“These photographs will be able to be used by the county assessor’s office, the sheriff’s department, planning and zoning,” says Thompson. “They are high resolution pictures.”
The sheriff’s office, for instance, will be able to check the photographs of a residence before moving in on a suspect.