Board of Commissioners visit with local gov’t reps
On Super Tuesday, the Faribault County Board of Commissioners had a few special guests to ring in the new electoral year. Rep. Bob Gunther and Senator Julie Rosen took time out of their busy schedules to talk to the local commissioners about legislative issues.
The commissioners chose five top issues to share and both Gunther and Rosen took all of the commissioner’s concerns into account. Their issues ranged from infrastructure funding to childcare and mental health issues.
Rosen said the senate has a lot of work to do, and it takes a lot of compromise on behalf of both parties to get the mountain of work done for the multiple issues the commissioners raised, but she says there is progress being made in the right direction.
Both Rosen and Gunther shared that Minnesota’s funds are being planned out fairly well, with dollars going to key issues such as health and human services and childcare.
According to Tom Warmka, the Board of Commissioners chairperson, Faribault County has seen an increase between five and 10 percent of local dollars being spent on health and human services.
“It’s good that we have those funds available, but it also means that more and more of our county needs those aided dollars. If we did not have such a large issue with human services, we would not have such a deficit in the amount of money we need to spend on roads and infrastructure,” said Warmka, who told Gunther and Rosen that according to the county engineer, Faribault County is $25 million behind on highway and bridge repairs.
Rosen and Gunther shared with the board that there are dollars available to smaller townships smaller than 5,000 people, but the money in the state is still trickling down slowly.
“I have every ounce of faith between our legislature and the state and we certainly have to do something about this issue, but we are trying to reach a compromise that we need to have happen that isn’t based solely on gas tax,” said Rosen.
The other human service concern raised by the commissioners and representatives was the need for childcare.
According to Gunther, Faribault County lost one-fourth of childcare centers in the county, and most of the state is in need of childcare providers.
“We have to be ready to grow,” said Gunther. “The problem in Faribault County is jobs. We need more hard-working, qualified people working in our schools and childcare providers.”
Childcare concerns also extended out to foster care and children aging out of the foster care system. $47 million were allocated to county services for human and childcare services last year, according to Rosen.
“This is a growing and vastly important issue. It’s monumental, and the more we keep peeling back the layers on this onion, the larger the problem becomes,” she said.
Rosen has been presently working with a task force to combat these issues. She stated that the task force came up with 93 recommendations when it came to child protection and child care, and that they have been tackling the first three issues on their list.
Those issues were making children the primary concern when it comes to child protection, making sure law enforcement is notified when there is an intake of a child into their care, and that mandatory reporters should be notified when and where a child has gone after being processed through the system.
“We have had hiccups just with those issues, which should be no brainers, but we are working hard to tackle the other 90 concerns we have,” said Rosen.
All in all, the report from the house of representatives and senate was positive for the commissioners in Faribault County.
The commissioners also heard from:
Commissioner Greg Young, who reported from the transit board. He stated that there are still some glitches in the Prairie Lakes Transit schedule when it came to riders calling in, but also says that with more time, the kinks should be worked out.
“We want to see how these bus schedules work for at least six months to be able to determine what the key issues in the schedule are, but for the most part it’s working well,” said Young.
Dawn?Fellows of Central Services who updated the commissioners on security for all of the county buildings which includes the new location at the Ag Center, courthouse, Law Enforcement Center, the county annex building, and the new County Attorney’s office.
Security cameras, new keys, and updated technology are only a few components of the new security system for the county.