County gets CARES funds
Faribault County has received $1,655,319 in Coronavirus Relief Funds along with another $81,530 to distribute to small cities and towns. Now, the question is, how can the money be spent?
County auditor Darren Esser shared the news with the commissioners at their regular meeting on Aug. 4.
The money came to the county as part of the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27.
There are, however, stipulations on how the money can be spent.
“We need to do this properly,” board member Greg Young said. “Which is why commissioner (Tom) Warmka and I have already talked to Darren about having some work sessions to learn what we can do.”
Esser was in favor of a work session.
“There are many gray areas and we are still learning how this money may be used,” Esser commented. “I think things will become more clear in the near future.”
The board decided to schedule a work session for Aug. 6, at 8 a.m.
“I think we need to have county EDA (Economic Development Authority) specialist Annie Leibel attend these meetings,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz offered. “I am sure CEDA (Community & Economic Development Associates) is already on top of this and her connection to CEDA will be valuable in helping us figure out how this money can be used.”
The coronavirus pandemic also came up when the board voted to replace the current travel policy/guidelines for Faribault County employees.
“I recommend the board approve the following travel policy,” Central Services director Lexie Scholten stated. “When an employee travels out-of-state, the employee should notify their supervisor or department head at the employee’s earliest convenience to allow for sufficient planning time.”
“After returning from out-of-state travel, employees are urged to work from home for 14 days if telecommuting is available and possible within their respective department. If telecommuting is not an option or is only available for less than the recommended 14 days, employees will be required to return to their normal job duties while following these guidelines:
Wear a mask inside all county facilities and while working outside where social distancing in not attainable.
Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms defined by the CDC.
Routinely clean and disinfect all personal work areas, electronics and equipment.”
Groskreutz asked how many employees had traveled out of state.
“Only two that I know of and it was for personal reasons,” Scholten replied.
The commissioners approved the policy, which will stay in effect until the board determines a travel policy is no longer necessary.
The commissioners moved on to discuss a possible sale of land located near Guckeen.
Innavaer Stein, of the Minnesota Department of Resources, phoned into the meeting to discuss the proposed sale of 34 acres to the Minnesota DNR.
“The land is located just north of Guckeen and is adjacent to an existing wildlife management area,” Stein explained. “It is on the east side of County Road 1.”
Stein was asked what kind of plans the DNR had for the land.
“We would try and do the same thing we have done with other wildlife areas,” Stein replied. “We will try and do any wetland restoration we can. That might work on the north end of the property. The rest of it would be planted to native grasses.”
The commissioners were wondering what the tax implications would be.
“The parcel would be incorporated into our ‘payment in lieu of tax’ program,” Stein explained. “The payment would be an estimated $1,740 per year which is right in the ballpark of what the county has been receiving in property tax from the parcel.”
The sale of the land was approved unanimously.