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County sets tax levy at $11,980,095

Amount represents 2.5 percent increase compared to last year

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Dec 20, 2020

Public works director Mark Daly listens as commissioner Tom Loveall discusses the merits of concrete and bituminous roads during the County Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15. County State Aid Highway 16 west of Blue Earth is scheduled for work in 2021 and the plans are to use bituminous material for the project.

The Faribault County Commissioners officially certified the tax levy for 2021 during their regular board meeting on Dec. 15.

The levy, which was set at $11,980,095, is an increase of $292,196, or 2.5 percent over the 2020 levy.

Budgeted revenues for 2021 total $29,082,381. Expenditures are budgeted to be $28,865,666.

“The major increases to the budget include the addition of a full-time Buildings and Grounds employee which will show up in the General Fund,” county auditor Darren Esser explained. “We also have planned buildups of $61,374 in the General Fund and $104,454 in the Human Services funds.”

In other financial matters, the board held a public hearing on the proposed tax abatement for the city of Blue Earth’s APX Housing project.

“The abatement would cover three duplexes for up to a 20-year period,” Esser told the board. “The county will abate the county’s share of the property tax, which is not to exceed $60,000, during the 20-year period.”

The commissioners approved the abatement plan on a 3-2 vote with commissioner Tom Loveall and board chairman Tom Warmka voting against the abatement.

Sheriff Mike Gormley and Chief Deputy Scott Adams attended the meeting to talk about replacing a squad vehicle which was totaled in an accident on Dec. 7.

“There is a 2020 Ford F150 available from Fairmont Ford for $35,500 plus fees,” Gormley said. “The insurance reimbursement for the totaled vehicle is $24,384. This leaves a difference of $11,116.”

Adams explained why the department was looking at an F150 instead of an Explorer, which is what was totaled in the crash.

“We are able to purchase the pickup at a cheaper price and they hold their resale value better than the Explorers,” Adams told the board. “The equipment from the old Explorers actually transfers better to the F150 than to a new Explorer and the insurance covers the cost of getting the pickup converted to a squad vehicle.”

The purchase of the F150 was approved by the board.

Gormley then told the board they would like to go forward with the purchase of three more F150s, which were in the budget for 2021, before the end of this year because of some discounts which will be ending Dec. 31.

“This would be similar to what we did two years ago in a similar situation,” Adams offered.

The board approved the purchase of three 2020 Ford F150 trucks out of the 2021 sheriff’s budget for $36,500 per truck.

Randy Schreiner, who has ties to Faribault County, attended the meeting virtually and advocated for using concrete paving when County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 16 is rehabilitated in 2021. Schreiner stated he feels concrete is justified because he says the cost of a concrete overlay is significantly less expensive on a life-cycle basis, assuming a two to four-inch bituminous overlay would be needed again in the next 15 to 20 years.

Public works director Mark Daly said concrete had been considered and he was even leaning in that direction at one time.

“But the cost of bituminous has come down substantially,” Daly explained. “A four-inch mill and overlay is about $900,000 cheaper than the concrete option would be for the CSAH 16 project and is a good option. The county has many miles of roads which need attention and there is a need to stretch the county’s dollars as far as they will go.”

The board did not take any action regarding this matter.

While Daly was still in attendance, commissioner Greg Young brought up a bill Jo Davies and Blue Earth City townships wished to submit to the county for extra grading and maintenance required on their roads when motorists chose not to use the official detour during the construction on Leland Parkway.

“These roads were heavily traveled,” Young said “The townships would like some help with the extra costs they incurred.”

Daly pointed out the county had spent $10,820 in the townships on dust control and grading.

Other commissioners felt it was a slippery slope and if you start helping one township then where will the requests stop.

A motion to pay half of the $5,190 bill failed with Young and commissioner Roper voting in favor of the motion and commissioners Tom Loveall, Bill Groskreutz and Warmka opposing the motion.

Planning and Zoning administrator Loria Rebuffoni attended the meeting virtually to present a conditional use permit application to the board for David Lein and Amber Weber.

“This permit comes with the recommendation of approval from the Planning Commission,” Rebuffoni stated. “The proposal is for a dog (boarding) kennel and grooming business. Amber has completed her college credits for grooming and David has provided documentation from the Board of Animal Health saying this size and type of operation does not require a license.”

A vote to approve the CUP was approved.

The commissioners approved a resolution setting the annual salary of each County Commissioner at $22,205. Each individual shall be paid a per diem of $80 per day for work related to serving on one of the board committees.

The allowance for meals remained the same as the previous year, with $11 allowed for breakfast, $13 for lunch and $25 for dinner.

In other business:

• The board approved a three percent general wage increase for non-union employees effective Jan. 1, 2021.

• Approval was given to increase rental rates by three percent for Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties to lease space in the Annex building. The annual rent will be $109,242 effective Jan.1, 2021.

• The board set the 2021 mobile device reimbursement rate for those enrolled in the stipend agreement with the county at $50 per month.

• Approval was given to GIS coordinator Brandee Douglas to attend an online training course for reading legal descriptions.