Commissioners handle several personnel issues during last meeting of November

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Fillmore County commissioners convened post-turkey for the last meeting of November, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, handling various items of business to prepare for the end of the year and budgeting for 2019.

First, Highway Engineer Ron Gregg presented a resolution to apply for an administrative variance to state aid rules for a part of the road in the city of Wykoff that does not meet the geometric horizontal roadway design. He explained that there is a need to adjust things to make way for a road project this coming summer on County Road 5. 

Also, Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins requested the board’s attention for a conditional use permit (CUP) for Linnea Weiser’s event venue in Bloomfield Township.  She explained the agricultural tourism permit would be for the former golf course just south of Spring Valley.

Weiser purchased part of the 16-acre plot, including the clubhouse and the golf cart storage. The rest of the course had been or will be sold as two separate parcels once the entire acreage had been approved for such. 

A question arose regarding the county’s economic development authority’s (EDA) stake in the land and how it could collect on anything it has invested there through a loan extended to a previous owner, but it was decided that there is risk involved with any EDA loan and that accepting the CUP request will be beneficial.           

Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman brought forward the allocation of the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) dividends, discussion regarding the swearing in of elected officials who gained office during the Nov. 6 election, reviewing the January 2019 meeting schedule, dealing with the land records department’s positions, and going over budget adjustments before the annual truth in taxation hearing set for the evening of Dec. 11. 

The dividends were assigned to the infrastructure fund and toward sending two people to a safety conference.  Vickerman pointed out that regarding the swearing-in formalities, the first Monday of the year is the state statute day for officials to be sworn in and that if they are not sworn in within ten days of the beginning of the year, they resign their positions. 

Setting the January schedule came into play as the commissioners debated as to how to accommodate the swearing in and annual meeting, and in the end, the board chose to set both for Tuesday, Jan. 8.  Commissioners Randy Dahl and Duane Bakke made motions to accept that date as the day on which officials will be sworn in and the annual meeting held. 

Vickerman then went on to explain that the assessor’s office has an employee who is functioning above her job description and that assessor Cindy Blagsvedt had already brought the matter to the personnel committee’s attention before the County Board considered transitioning to a land records director’s role as Blagsvedt retires. 

Vickerman related that the possibility exists that this person could have their title elevated to account tech or account tech lead. She remarked that a request had been registered for a finance officer, an account tech lead and an account tech, and Vickerman cited she felt it would be best to elevate the individual in the assessor’s office to account tech lead and to advertise for an account tech. 

Ultimately, the board decided to elevate the employee’s position and advertise for an account technician.  The board then reviewed expenses and allocation requests in advance of the truth in taxation hearing, making a motion to approve the budget adjustments brought before them.      

Sheriff Tom Kaase had a short list of items, including the request for sale of seized vehicles, the addition of a vehicle order through the leasing program the county uses for its fleet vehicles, and a request to begin the hiring process for a deputy sheriff. 

He outlined that some of the vehicles were DUI seizures, that some of them had clear titles and, in the past, some of the vehicles had been sold at local auction and others sent to sale in Wisconsin. 

Commissioner Bakke made a motion to approve the sale, and the rest of the board agreed. 

Kaase highlighted that when the county began leasing vehicles earlier this year, it set four as the number of vehicles it would replace each year, and he had spoken with Enterprise Fleet about leasing Dodge Durangos. 

“I took a look at the budget, and we had budgeted $80,000, and currently, we’ve spent $42,604, so we’re about halfway there…in the 2018 budget,” he said. 

Bakke wanted to know if that meant the county still has an extra $40,000 in the budget because it was his understanding that couldn’t be possible because there were still vehicles to pay for. 

Kaase stated there was equipment to install in the vehicles that would use some of that amount and he was seeking one vehicle to complete the 2018 leasing cycle – asking for one Dodge Durango. 

Commissioner Marc Prestby made the first motion to allow the purchase of one vehicle, and Commissioner Gary Peterson seconded Prestby’s motion. 

Dahl questioned the need for a police package vehicle – what extras have been installed in the vehicles that haven’t been in other vehicles – and wanted to know whether the maintenance contract with the leasing company had begun to pay for itself.  The motion carried. 

Finally, Kaase requested permission to hire a deputy sheriff to replace Capt. John DeGeorge as he takes over as sheriff in January. The board gave its nod.         

Public Health Director Jessica Erickson outlined the Fillmore County expenditure on the joint board of health – the entity formed from Fillmore County’s partnership with Houston County. She reviewed the joint board of health’s bylaws and funding procedure and gave an update regarding the family home visiting grant. She noted the bylaws will be discussed after the Houston County Board members get to take a closer look at them. Erickson noted the emergency preparedness grant will be split in half so Fillmore County receives the same amount as Houston County even though Fillmore County has a larger population, as historically, Houston County has received 60 percent and Fillmore County, 40 percent.    

Administrative items encompassed renewing the county’s contract with SHI International Corporation at a cost of $45,898 for the coming year’s software assurances that maintain the county’s access to Microsoft products. 

The consent agenda included granting successful completion of probation for case aide Samantha Grabau, effective Nov. 27, and providing a merit increase for social worker Kelli Jo Dornink, effective Nov. 13.