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County Board Meeting August 4

Posted: 08/05/2020

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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A public open house is now scheduled to review plans for the 822 Douglas Street building purchased by Douglas County. That open house will be held Thursday, August 13 at 822 Douglas Street from 6 to 7 p.m.  The future of the building was one of many topics of discussion during a day-long Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, August 4.

The building in Alexandria was purchased to accommodate space needs at the county. A new renovation estimate came in at about $3.8 million according to County Board Chair Keith Englund. The current use proposal includes relocating the auditor/treasurer’s office, central finance, coordinator’s office, and the county board to the building, which used to house the First Lutheran Church.  

Commissioners also heard from elected officials regarding their 2021 budgets and salary requests. Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson is requesting $127,300, Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen is requesting $127,300, Douglas County Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow, who is also the finance director, is requesting $121,800 and Douglas County Recorder Mary Skillings is asking for $64,580. These requests are made on an annual basis and will be voted on at the next board meeting.

Leadership from the Douglas County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) made their annual request for approval of a budget and tax levy. This year’s budget is $1,110,580.00 and the tax levy is $835,000.00.

Leadership from Pope/Douglas Solid Waste also made their annual presentation. They asked to issue $5,795,000 in general obligation solid waste revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of land and various equipment replacements and upgrades and the construction of various building modifications to accommodate the landfill mining operation for the Pope/Douglas waste-to-energy facility in Alexandria.  

Other board action included:

Coordinator’s Office

Douglas County has received $4.6 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, made possible under the U.S. Treasury’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Coordinator Heather Schlangen presented the board with a resolution to accept that funding, which members approved.

The county intends to make $2.5 million of that money available as grants to Douglas County businesses and nonprofits who were negatively impacted during the COVID-19 shutdown. The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) has agreed to coordinate the application and distribution of funds process.  A committee will be formed which will include county representation. The application process begins August 10 and ends September 4. More details will be released by AAEDC.  

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Per Minnesota statute, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office requested, and the board held, a public comment opportunity regarding the sheriff’s office use of drones.  Sheriff Troy Wolbersen explained the drones are used to search for missing people, to assist when requested for incidents like the large downtown Alexandria fire where the drone was used to detect hot spots and water usage. No one from the public attended the meeting to speak on the use of drones.

Sheriff Wolbersen asked for a wage variance which would allow him to offer employment to an experienced correctional officer. The board tabled that request so members could further research its impacts.

Sheriff Wolbersen also asked the board to accept a $50 donation from Bill and Marilyn Ingebrigtsen. The donation is in memory of Chief Deputy Jason Peterson’s father and will be used for the honor guard.

Information Systems

IT Director Brent Birkeland asked commissioners for permission to update the county’s wireless network equipment at a cost of $15,409.03. Commissioners approved that request.

Birkeland also presented, for discussion only, an upgrade to the county’s audio visual and teleconferencing capabilities. The county anticipates making much greater use of technology for meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic and may be able to use CARES Act funding to cover some of the cost.

Social Services

Douglas County Community Services Director Laurie Bonds asked commissioners to approve the 2021 contract with Land of the Dancing Sky. This contract helps cover the cost of the Douglas County Senior Services Office.

Bonds also presented the board with options to recoup the cost of $86,181.06 in Medical Assistance. The commissioners approved transferring a contract for deed to county collections until the bill is paid.  

Land and Resource Management

Director Dave Rush asked commissioners to approve several plats and a conditional use permit which they did. The requests include: Sunset Ridge, Hermitage Hill, Red Pine Ridge, Bedman’s Beach Second Addition and a conditional use permit for Danielle and Aaron Wurm and protective covenants for Serenity Cove

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson asked the board to sign off on completion of various projects and make final payments. Those projects include CSAH 4, CR 87, pavement markings on County State Aid Highways and county roads, and application of liquid calcium chloride.

Park Superintendent Brad Bonk asked the board to accept $930,746 from the DNR. The funds are a legacy grant that will be matched by the county to construct a building at Lake Brophy Park.  

Auditor Treasurer

Char Rosenow asked commissioners to: approve members of her staff as Deputy Recount Officials for the 2020 primary and general elections, allow her to purchase a central county machine for elections, sign a resolution that accepts $38,271.27 from the 2020 Voting Equipment Grant to purchase 32 Omni Ballot Systems assistive voting devices as approved by the Minnesota Secretary of State, hire 12 additional temporary election staff, transfer funds for election equipment, transfer of hospice funds to the capital projects fund and hire Clifton Larson Allen as a consultant as the county spends CARES Act funds.

Finally, the board heard a presentation from our area Department of Natural Resources officials. They discussed their work on fisheries, chronic wasting disease in deer, the continued work to reduce aquatic invasive species and parks and trails.

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