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BREAKING NEWS

County discusses $4 million bond

Commissioners also OK several road, bridge projects for 2021

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Feb 21, 2021

This bridge, located on County Road 109, is one which will be replaced using federal funding.

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners set March 16, at 9:30 a.m., as the time for a public hearing on the proposed $4 million capital improvement bond. The public hearing will be held during the board’s second regular meeting of the month.

Treasurer-auditor Darren Esser explained a public hearing was necessary unless they wanted to put the question on a ballot for county residents to vote on.

Commissioner Greg Young asked if the public hearing is the final step.

“No, residents in the county can still petition to get the proposal on the ballot,” Esser said.

Later, Esser provided information which stated the petition must include signatures equal to, or greater than, five percent of the number of votes in the previous general election and must be filed with the County Auditor within 30 days after the public hearing.

“Our previous general election had 7,966 votes,” Esser commented. “So it would take around 399 signatures to put the question on a ballot.”

Esser also pointed out even though the board’s original motion was for a $4 million capital improvement bond, the amount could still be amended.

Discussion was also held on a resolution which was tabled from the previous County Board meeting.

The resolution in question would be to establish guidelines for what resolutions and proclamations the board would consider at their meetings.

Commissioner Tom Loveall asked county attorney Kathryn Karjala, who had proposed the resolution, what the rationale was behind the resolution?

“To keep business that is not really county business out of the meetings and keep the board’s docket clear so the county can get their business done,” Karjala explained.

Loveall pointed out in some places the resolution sounds like a staff guidance document.

“With all due respect, it is not up to the county attorney’s office to determine what we discuss,” Loveall said. “We are elected to bring forward policies. We are here to represent the people.”

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz said the policy does not prevent anyone from being heard.

“It states anyone may be heard by the County Board through contacting a board member or by appearing before the board during public comment,” Groskreutz stated.

Loveall was not satisfied.

“We represent the people even when we make a wrong decision,” Loveall commented. “A document should not be used to keep topics off the table.”

Young appeared to be in agreement with Loveall.

“To stifle any discussion is not a good idea,” Young said. “I do not think we should be restricting ourselves. It starts to sound like cancel culture.”

The resolution was put on the floor on a motion by Groskreutz but died for lack of a second.

Discussion then moved on to consider resolutions brought forth by Public Works director Mark Daly.

The first resolution passed was to allow the county to advance three bridge projects which involve federal aid.

“Doing this will allow us to proceed with the construction of these projects in advance of the year it is programmed for the federal funds,” said Daly.

The board also approved a resolution to accept and finalize three 2020 box culvert projects. The total price of the projects was $769,673, which was about six percent less than the projected price of $819,272.

The last three resolutions all involve Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) projects,” Daly said. “These projects require a county sponsor and the support of the County Board.”

Two of the projects were within the city limits of Blue Earth.

“The first project involves a proposal by the city of Blue Earth for street improvements by reconstructing Rice Street from 14th Street East to 17th Street East and 17th Street East from Rice Street to Ramsey Street,” Daly explained. “Rice Street provides access to the Blue Earth Area football field and track and field complex. Rice and 17th streets provide access to St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center.”

Another project located within the city of Blue Earth involves reconstructing the existing gravel sections of Giant Drive from the Subway restaurant going north and Fairview Street from Subway going west.

Both of the projects in Blue Earth would involve constructing a 36-foot-wide street with curb and gutter.

“The final LRIP is for two road improvement projects in Jo Daviess Township,” Daly commented. “They include reconstructing 345th Avenue from County State Aid Highway 16 to 100th Street and 85th Street from 330th Avenue to 360th Avenue. When completed the roads would be 10-ton roads.”

The board approved all three LRIP resolutions.

The board also:

• Approved the hiring of Craig Hougen as shop lead worker in the Public Works department.

• Discussed and accepted a quote from Mavo Systems of White Bear Lake to do rehabilitation work in the County Attorney’s office building in preparation for moving the probation office into that building.

• Approved the training request of Jacob Peterson of the Sheriff’s department to attend an armorer’s course in Algona, Iowa.

• Learned Prairie Lakes Transit will provide free transportation through the month of April for people who are getting their COVID-19 vaccination shots.