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Close to making a $12M decision

County Board again discusses bonding for road improvements

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Sep 26, 2021

County engineer Mark Daly, far left, discusses a possible $12 million bond for highway projects with the board.

Should the county bond to advance the timeline for improving the county’s highways? It is a question the Faribault County Commissioners began considering some time ago and one they are still considering.

They began discussing the subject more seriously during their first meeting in September and took up the matter again at their meeting on Sept. 21.

“The type of bond would be a local agency bond,” public works director Mark Daly said. “The State of Minnesota is not a party to the bond issue, but the county can pledge repayment with its available annual State Aid Construction and Maintenance Allotments.”

Daly provided three different scenarios for paying off a $12 million bond.

“If we paid it off over 15 years the annual payment would be approximately $935,000, a 20-year bond would have annual payments of about $738,000 and a 30-year bond would have annual payments of $580,000,” Daly said. “Of course, the longer you take to pay off the bond, the more interest you will end up paying.”

All of the commissioners acknowledged there is a need to improve the county’s highways.

“One of the benefits of bonding is it would allow us to get to some of the roads before they are in even worse condition which would require more money to rehabilitate them,” commissioner Tom Loveall stated. “We also may see a gain in economy of scale from being able to package our road bids.”

The county receives $4.5 million per year in state aid money, according to Daly.

“So even if we used $1 million to fund the bond repayment, we would still have $3.5 million left for other projects,” Daly explained. “It would allow us to advance our plan for resurfacing our highways by five years.”

“I think there is a lot more upside to doing this than downside,” commissioner Bruce Anderson added.

The County Board passed a motion instructing county auditor Darren Esser to begin gathering more information on the possibility of procuring a $12 million bond, including what the projected interest rate would be and other factors involved.

The commissioners also voted to set the total net tax levy for 2022, after the reduction of program aid, at $12,745,521. This represents an increase of over six percent from the previous levy.

“I think this is a reasonable place to start,” Esser said. “I feel we can possibly get the increase down to lower than four percent.”

Faribault County attorney Cameron Davis was present at the meeting and introduced the new assistant county attorney, Brent Peterson.

“I am happy to be working here,” Peterson commented.

Peterson had previously worked for Judge Troy Timmerman in the Fifth District Judicial Office.

In another personnel matter, the commissioners voted to accept the resignation of Faribault County Economic Development Authority board member Jack Heinitz and appoint David Roper as his replacement.

Planning and Zoning administrator Loria Rebuffoni attended the meeting to talk about two proposed amendments the Planning Commission has been considering.

“The first amendment would remove the requirement to obtain a conditional use permit (CUP), which is currently necessary, when two dwellings are built on the same parcel, providing all other setbacks and requirements are met,” Rebuffoni explained. “We have seen a trend where young people are returning to the area to live near their elderly parents.”

The amendment passed.

A second amendment dealt with changing the Shoreland Agriculture District requirements of setbacks for buildings to the Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL) from 200 feet to 150 feet to coincide with the Department of Natural Resources.

“Our staff followed DNR protocol on amending the Shoreland regulations and the DNR submitted formal documentation for conditional approval based on the proposed changes,” Rebuffoni explained. “This proposed change would not affect Residential Shoreland Districts which have different OHWL setbacks.”

The commissioners voted to approve the ammendment.

The County Board also:

• Approved an Extension agreement with the University of Minnesota.

• Passed a resolution classifying and setting the basic sales price of 14 different tax forfeited parcels located throughout the county.

• Approved an updated rental lease with Human Services for the Annex building with an increase in rent of three percent.

• Approved the requests of Melissa Sonnek of the Sheriff’s Department to attend a three-day Minnesota Jail Programs and Services conference; Jessica Blair of the county auditor’s office to attend a two-day meeting for the Southern Region of the Minnesota Association of County Auditors, Treasurers and Finance Officers; and Kaylynn Smith and Erin Beske of the Sheriff’s Department to attend a Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) 911 conference.