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County Board breezes through a short agenda

Board discusses new software program and Drainage Department expenses

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Oct 10, 2021

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners had a short agenda to work through when they met for their regular board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

County assessor Gertrude Paschke was present at the meeting to ask the commissioners to consider a motion approving a five-year contract with Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. for computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) software.

“Faribault County’s current CAMA software program is scheduled to no longer be maintained by the vendor at the conclusion of 2023. Accurate appraisal is the baseline needed to allow for equitable property taxation,” Paschke explained. “I have been working with the county auditor/treasurer and with the data processing department to plan a move to a new software program in advance to allow for a relatively seamless transition.”

Paschke told the board three programs were examined.

“It was determined only two were utilized in Minnesota and would meet the requirements of the assessor’s office,” Paschke said. “My recommendation is go with the software from Vanguard Appraisals at a cost of $127,230 over a five-year period. The other bid, from Tyler Technologies, was for $287,000 over the same five-year period.”

Paschke said she had reached out to other county assessors in Minnesota and had received good reviews on Vanguard Appraisals.

“They have a reputation for excellent customer support,” Paschke noted.

The commissioners proceeded to approve the contract with Vanguard Appraisals, beginning in 2022, for a five-year period, at a cost of $127,230.

Public Works director Mark Daly also attended the meeting.

“I recently received an invoice from the county Drainage Department for $495,557,” Daly told the commissioners. “Darren (county auditor Darren Esser) had warned me there would be a bill coming covering expenses which had not been billed out earlier, but I had not budgeted for this large of an amount.”

The total bill from the Drainage Department included one charge which dated back to 2012.

“Most of these should have been billed out before I was in office,” Esser explained. “We are making the effort to get things current.”

Daly and the commissioners looked at various options for paying the fees before deciding to use $234,031 from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and directing Esser and Daly to meet and work out a payment plan for the remaining balance.

“In the future, it appears like I will have to budget $50,000-$75,000 each year to cover drainage expenses,” Daly commented.

Discussion was also held on the bonding bill. The board voted to have Esser contact the bonding company and proceed with gathering information on bonding for $12 million. This was the next step in possibly deciding to bond for the improvement of county highways. It was not a final decision to bond for the project.

Daly also reported on the progress of the bridge construction projects taking place in the county.

“The painting on the bridges over County State Aid Highways 21 and 109 should be completed this week,” Daly said. “Construction should also be completed on the 10th Street box culvert this week.”

Daly also reminded the commissioners the fall road tour of county highways will be on Oct. 21.

The County Board also:

• Passed a motion approving an increase of $27,000 to the 2021 budget for the purchase of 21 automated external defibrillators (AED). Five are needed at the courthouse, Ag Center and Public Works Department while the other 16 are needed for the Sheriff’s Department/jail use.

• Approved the hiring of Emily Bonin as a welfare fraud investigator.

• Approved the training request of Amy Wachlin of the Department of Motor Vehicles to attend a one-day Minnesota Deputy Registrar’s Association meeting.

• Gave approval to Jessica Blair to attend a seminar sponsored by the Minnesota Government Finance Officers Association on beginning governmental accounting.

• Passed a motion to transfer a 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer from the Sheriff’s Department to the Faribault County Assessors Office at a cost of $2,000.