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County might bond $12M for highways

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Sep 12, 2021

Road construction is a common topic of conversation at a majority of the Faribault County Board of Commissioners meetings and the Sept. 7 meeting in the County Board room was no different.

Although the overall condition of Faribault County’s paved roads has improved over the past few years, it has still been difficult to keep up with the needed improvements to the roads.

With those thoughts in mind, Public Works director Mark Daly laid out a plan to the commissioners which would accelerate improving the county’s highways over the upcoming years.

“This is a five-year construction plan utilizing a $12 million bond to finance the road improvements,” Daly said. “The bond could be financed through the state-aid we receive.”

Commissioner Greg Young asked for clarification, “You are saying we could use the state-aid funds to finance the bond?”

Daly answered, “Yes.”

It was an important point as the board is currently working on setting the tax levy for the upcoming year.

“I am not interested in bonding for roads if we have to raise the tax levy to do so,” commissioner Tom Loveall said. “But I would be interested if we could finance the bond without having to do that (raise the levy).”

The board members discussed the matter for a short time before directing county auditor Darren Esser to put some more concrete figures together for the board to study.

“It is an idea worth looking into,” Loveall noted. “The economy of scale on a bigger project could help out and the county should be able to get more companies to bid on the project. The price of oil remains a driving factor in the cost of bituminous.”

Daly also informed the commissioners the county would be receiving $234,031 for the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

“We are eligible for these funds due to revenue loss from County State Aid Highway (CSAH) funds,” Daly explained. “The money can be used for a variety of things.”

One of the ways the money could be utilized would be to purchase a county vehicle (other than cars or pickups).

“It could be used to purchase a new snow plow unit,” Daly commented.

That possibility caught the attention of the commissioners.

“If we were to use the funds to purchase a snow plow, we could remove the purchase from the budget and lower the levy,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz offered.

The board members decided to wait and make a decision on the use of the funds at a later date.

In his construction update, Daly told the commissioners the work is progressing on the bridge on CSAH 109.

“The concrete has been poured but there is still work to be done,” he said. “All work is complete on CSAH 16 except for the striping. The rumble strips must cure for two weeks before stripes can be painted over them.”

The commissioners set the time for their fall road tour for Oct. 21, at 8 a.m.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Scott Adams was at the meeting to discuss upgrading the 911 system.

“We have known this was coming. The current one is from 2008 and uses Windows Vista and is no longer supported,” Adams told the commissioners. “The new system will cost $158,000 but we currently have $252,000 in our 911 account.”

Adams then talked about some of the benefits of the new system.

“It will pinpoint where the 911 call originated to a room within a building,” he explained.

According to Adams, the seller of the system, Motorola, will support the current system until the new one is installed.

“It is expected the new system should be installed by next March,” he commented. “So, we would have support for our old system until then.”

The vote to purchase the new system was unanimous.

Central Services director Lexie Scholten and county attorney Cameron Davis also came before the board with a request for a new position in the county attorney’s office.

“Our staff is swamped,” Davis explained. “There is only one other person on staff besides myself and the assistant county attorney and she has been putting in a lot of overtime hours.”

The proposal was to hire a part-time worker for a maximum of 25 hours per week.

“They would not be eligible for health benefits,” Scholten said. “It would be a union position and the pay could be as high as $26,000 in 2022.”

The commissioners voted to approve the new position.

Board members also heard from Quinn Slaven of Summit Carbon Solutions who attended the meeting virtually.

“Our company is seeking to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants before they are released into the atmosphere,” Slaven explained. “We have agreements with ethanol plants in five states including the plant in Fairmont.”

He told the commissioners more about the process.

“We would compress them into a liquid which would then be transported by a pipeline and injected into underground rock formations in North Dakota,” Slaven explained. “It would be a $4.5 billion investment by the company.”

Summit Carbon Solutions does not currently have an agreement with the ethanol plant in Winnebago. Should the ethanol plant decide to work with Summit Carbon Solutions, a conditional use permit would be needed if a pipeline were to be constructed.

Veterans Services Officer Jenna Schmidtke also attended the meeting virtually to ask the commissioners to approve the annual Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs grant application and to approve the receipt of donated funds. The board approved both items.

In other business:

• The board approved the repurchase of tax forfeited parcels in Elmore and Winnebago.

• A virtual tax forfeiture tour was set for 8 a.m. on Sept. 21, in the County Board room.

• Board members approved the request of Sara Van Moer of the Central Services department to attend a seminar titled ‘Managing the Human Resource” put on by MCIT (Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust).

• A request by Central Services director Scholten to attend the Minnesota Association of County Administrators (MACA) /Minnesota Association of County Human Resource Management Association (MCHRMA) fall conference was approved.

• Steve Robbins of the County Assessor’s office was approved to attend the Minnesota Association of Assessing Officers fall conference.