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No more smoking?

By Staff | Jun 7, 2015

What started out as trying to update their personnel policy turned into a great debate for the Faribault County Board as they tried to decide what to do about the smoking on county grounds.

The board approved most of the policy last month; however, the last portion which remained in question has yet to be approved after much discussion during the County Commissioner meeting held last Tuesday.

In fact, the issue was discussed, tabled and brought up for a discussion again, all in the same meeting.

“Nicollet, LeSueur, Watonwan and Waseca counties had SHIP money to go through a similar process and made their campuses smoke free,” Dawn Fellows explained.

However, the commissioners of Faribault County questioned how a smoke-free policy would be enforced at the various county sites.

“I talked to a commissioner from LeSueur County and he didn’t think it worked, he thought it was a complete failure and maybe we are headed that way, too,”?commissioner John Roper said. “I would like to see it just the grounds of the courthouse (be smoke-free) and in any buildings.”

When this portion of the policy was first brought forth, some of the county employees wondered if they would be able to smoke in their own personal vehicles on county property during their work breaks.

Since some employees have long shifts and cannot leave the grounds to smoke, it was a concern to make all of the campuses completely smoke free.

“If we went completely smoke free, who is going to enforce it, especially at places like the law enforcement center?” commissioner Tom Loveall said.

The discussion shifted to the possibility of allowing smoking only in designated areas.

“Our policy will conform to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, which is what we have to do anyways,”?Loveall added.

County attorney Troy Timmerman brought copies of the Clean Air Act for the commissioners to reference.

“I don’t see anything that prohibits it so many feet from an entry,” Timmerman said. “But, you don’t want smoke from your smoking area infiltrating your non-smoking area.”

He also added that it could be considered a petty misdemeanor for someone to smoke in an area which prohibits smoking.

“You will want to treat all of your buildings the same. I recommend uniformity however you decide to proceed,”?he added.

Ultimately, they decided to change the draft of the policy to state that smoking is not allowed on county property except in designated areas, pursuant to the Clean Air Act.

It was also decided that Timmerman and Fellows would work together to revise the smoking portion of the personnel policy. Once that is revised it will be brought back to the commissioners for review.

In other business:?

The County Board agreed to provide the rest of the funding for the new transit joint powers board.

The MnDOT grant they received covered 80 percent of the costs while Martin and Faribault counties were going to split the remaining 20 percent.

Faribault County had previously funded $10,000.

“They ask we fully fund that and pay the remaining $5,161.85,” Fellows added.

A?request was made by the county assessor to have a county issued credit card.

“We have a policy that certain departments can have cards,” commissioner Greg Young said. “Will it be just for him or his staff as well?”

It was stated that a county credit card could not be issued to all employees but only certain department heads.

The commissioners approved the county assessor’s request for the card with a $2,500 limit.