County sets preliminary budget with modest increase

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

Budgeting for 2019 garnered attention during the Tuesday, Sept. 25, County Board meeting as Coordinator and Auditor-treasurer Bobbie Vickerman laid out the numbers and possibilities for the coming year’s finances.

She stated the percentage she’d reached after shaving off some budget requests in various departments stood at 3.49 percent, a point from which the county can come down but not go up when it certifies the budget in December during the annual truth in taxation hearing.

That 3.49 percent represents a preliminary budget which has been set at $10,699.320, over the 2018 final budget of $10,454,200 for a per-capita expenditure of $518.50. The preliminary 2019 levy has been proposed $10,819,093.

Commissioner Randy Dahl made a motion to approve a resolution for the 2019 preliminary levy, and Commissioner Gary Peterson seconded, after which the Board voted separately but unanimously in favor of the budget and levy.

SELCO request

A request was made from Southeast Libraries Cooperating (SELCO), calling for a one-year agreement on funding the county’s seven libraries – located in Chatfield, Preston, Mabel, Harmony, Spring Valley, Lanesboro and Rushford. The request was for a $5,500 increase on the current amount of $223,809 to be split among them, opposed to the county’s three-year contract for $5,500 each year on that amount.

The library directors registered that they wanted to return to negotiations, but the Board determined it would proceed, either accepting the SELCO agreement or reverting to the 2018 agreement.

Bakke stated he felt this is the largest amount the county has offered and he agreed with the proposal for the three-year contract.

Commissioner Marc Prestby moved to proceed with the three-year contract, after which Dahl said, “I support the libraries a lot, the veterans, all the other organizations, too. I don’t think it’s an unfair contract, especially in light of that SELCO has agreed to contracts that are half of (this) contract.”

The board concluded with a decision to continue with the three-year agreement.

Poll pads

The last item on Vickerman’s list encompassed the purchase of 45 poll pads to be employed during this year’s midterm and local general elections at a cost of approximately $46,000, including hotspots, plus the cost of annual maintenance. The county has an $18,000 grant from the state to apply towards these costs.

Vickerman remarked the county had gotten to test the poll pads during the primary election and found them to be helpful and efficient. Some of the commissioners questioned how efficient they are in comparison to the paper system currently in place, but ultimately, Commissioner Duane Bakke made a motion to approve the purchase, and Dahl seconded. The motion passed.

Reports

Highway Engineer Ronald Gregg outlined numerous payments to Bruening Rock Products for gravel contracts throughout the county, including final payments of $910.09 for County Road 118 in Carimona and Forestville townships; for $1,703.45 on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 26 in Holt Township; for $2,193.57 for CSAH 28 in Newburg Township; $2,163.46 for CSAH 30 in Harmony and Canton townships; $251.56 for County Road 109 in Beaver Township; $1,283.23 for County Road 107 in Norway and Holt townships; and $683.29 for County Road 117 in Fountain Township.

Additionally, Gregg was very pleased to announce that CSAH 1 north out of Spring Valley reopened permanently the evening of Sept. 24 after a three-year project to re-engineer and repave the roadway.

Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn presented a retirement request from case aide Sylvia Leitzen – effective Sept. 30. The commissioners thanked Leitzen for her years of service to the county. The board then went on to grant Kohn permission to advertise internally for a replacement case aide.

The Board then addressed the matter of changing the maximum allowable flexible spending contribution for health benefits from $2,500 to the federal limit of $2,650. Discussion ensued regarding the possible creation of a health savings account (HSA) option.

The commissioners questioned the differences between the HSA and Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA) contributions made by the county, and which would make the most sense for employees’ needs and the county’s financial well-being.

Kohn informed them that employees can put money into an HSA account or VEBA, but not both. Board members chose to set the matter aside until a representative of the Southeast Service Cooperative (SSC) could attend a meeting and straighten out the details.

The Board set the 2019 open enrollment dates for Oct. 30 through Nov. 15, 2018.

The Board also approved hiring a replacement head mechanic, according to Local #49 pay no later than Oct. 12. This hire comes with the understanding that after this particular person’s hire, there will be no need for outside Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) inspections.

Proposed updates to the pre-employment physical, work hours and attendance and scope, adoption and administration policies were presented for the first time. Conversation centered on work hours policy as related to who is required to answer phone calls and emails outside work hours and how much time constitutes enough to require that employees be compensated for their interrupted days off, as well as changing work hours when necessary.

Veterans Services Officer Jason Marquardt explained to the board about the $10,000 County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) office enhancement grant. “It doesn’t require any county money, and it’s going to be used for office enhancements,” he explained. “We plan on using it to get tires for the van, some replacement star markers for the cemeteries because they get hit by lawnmowers and the state gives a veteran only one, and we’ll get whatever we need for telehealth equipment.” The commissioners voted in favor.

Sarah Monroe, of Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted (DFO) Victim Services, and Kari Berg, of DFO Corrections, along with Anne Detlefsen, of Women’s Shelter, asked for the Board to sign a proclamation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, then listed the activities planned for the month to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Fillmore County Ag Society representative Doug Lind came with a request for funding for cement repair and replacement at the Fillmore County fairgrounds.

The Board closed the meeting, at length, pursuant to Minn. Statute 13D.05, subd.2 (b) to speak about employee discipline action and mediation including the oversight of Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) for prior disciplinary action.

The consent agenda included approving payment of the $110,395.50 fourth quarter invoice to Olmsted Community Services for Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections 2018 appropriation, and granting family and medical leave for an employee – effective Sept. 11 – for up to 12 weeks.