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Douglas County Board Meeting February 16, 2022

Posted: 02/17/2022

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners held its February meeting on Wednesday the 16th at the Douglas County Administration Building 821 Cedar Street.

Coordinator’s Office

Coordinator Heather Schlangen asked the board to approve permission for private residents and groups to hire West Central Ag-Air Inc. and Benson Air Ag, Inc. to spray for tent caterpillars in 2022. Board chair Tim Kalina reiterated that the county is not hiring them, it is only approving the hiring by others. The board approved the request.

The Coordinator’s Office also asked the board for permission to fill seasonal/temporary job slots. Those positions will be for public works, parks maintenance, election clerks, watercraft inspectors and a library clerk.  The board approved the request.

Board members also approved the hiring of an IT Security analyst at Grade 12. 

Sheriff

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen asked for and was given permission to accept contracts for law enforcement services in the cities of Carlos, Miltona, and Evansville. The cities pay $42.00 per hour for law enforcement services.

The board also approved a 2-year grant for $11,020.00 to pay for labor and equipment in the enforcement of snowmobile laws and providing youth training classes.

Information Technology

IT Director Brent Birkeland explained to commissioners why it’s a good idea for Douglas County to eventually change its domain name to DouglasCountyMN.gov. The goal is to ensure residents have clearer understanding, awareness, and recognition of Douglas County Minnesota online resources.  

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson asked for and was given permission to make final payment on the 2021 paving contract to Mark Sand and Gravel of Fergus Falls. The value of the contract was $963,213.18 with an underrun of -1.15%.

Erickson also asked to make the final contract payment for the LaGrand Township roundabout project completed by Central Specialties. The final payment is $9,632.13

Commissioners approved of Public Works ordering a new tandem snowplow truck at a cost of $248,000.

Erickson asked the board to accept a $1,500 donation from Minnesota Deer Hunters Association for Spruce Hill Archery Park which was approved.

Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson brought a request forward regarding repairs on County ditch 17. There is a request for repairs that will exceed the amount currently in the repair fund. Anderson recommended and the board approved a request to levy in the amount of $69,460.72. That will ensure there are enough funds to make the needed repairs.

Land & Resource Management

Commissioners approved a preliminary plat on Big Chippewa for the subdivision of two lots.

Director Dave Rush then asked for approval of the Peterson Legacy proposal. This proposal is to plat eleven lots on the north side of Schwab Bay on Lake Ida and one 12-acre lot on the peninsula. All lots will be provided connection to central sewer (ALASD). Commissioner Jerry Rapp asked Rush about limiting the amount of salt from water softeners in this new development. He said the public is unaware of the stress caused by chloride in our lakes. Commissioner Charlie Meyer asked about the cost of a system to remove the backwash from water softening. Rush said he thought it would be $2,000 to $3,000 per lot. Commissioner Rapp motioned that he would approve the development only if the permit required each lot have a system to remove the brine from water softeners or a saltless water softener. The board voted unanimously to include that condition for the developer to move forward.

Rush also shared the proposed new Land & Resource Management fee schedule. One of the fee increases involved homeowners who want to install their own septic system. He said his staff often spends a good deal of time answering homeowners questions and therefore he is raising the fee to $450. The new fee schedule will be posted on the Land & Resource Management website. The vote to approve the fee increases was 4 to 1 with Commissioner Jerry Rapp voting no.

Social Services

Director Laurie Bonds explained the need for the board to approve what’s called a Determination of Need for Productive Alternatives to move into a new building. It’s a procedural matter and the board voted yes. Productive Alternatives purchased and renovated a building which better meets the needs of those taking part in their Day Support and Employment Services. The new facility will accommodate up to 117 people versus the 60 clients supported at the old location.

Veteran Services

Veteran Services Officer Jacob Turner updated commissioners on the work within his office in 2021. Turner and his staff log numbers of office visits, phone calls, home visits, email, mail, outreach and events, number of van rides to medical appointments and other. He also mentioned that Assistant Veteran Services Officer Rhonda Fuchs successfully assisted a veteran who was eligible to receive a large amount of back benefits.  

Auditor/Treasurer

Stephanie Guttum filled in for Auditor Treasurer Vicki Doehling. She asked commissioners to approve a seasonal on-sale liquor license for Lake Miltona Golf Club and two gambling permits for nonprofits holding raffles at upcoming events.  She also requested they appoint a Redistricting Committee. Every 10 years following the census, all levels of government are required to review their voting districts for the purpose of equalizing the population representation and to redraw the boundaries. Board chair Tim Kalina and Commissioner Jerry Rapp will serve on the committee. 

Stacy Novak from the Auditor Treasurer’s office and County Assessor Stacy Honkomp presented information on the scheduled public auction for tax forfeited land. That auction will be held March 17 at 9 a.m. in the county board room located at 821 Cedar Street.

Finance

Finance Director Jill Frisell presented the latest four proposals for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Commissioners approved approximately $819,000 so the Douglas County Sheriff, Emergency Management and Public Works can replace old ARMER radios. 

Douglas County Parks requested up to $106,412 in ARPA funds for pit toilet conversions at county parks. This conversion will replace the pit toilets with vaulted toilets.

The Douglas County Library requested $27,759 in ARPA funds to replace and relocate a drop box which allows patrons to return materials outside the library and for staff to safely receive them. The library will also create a new, more user-friendly website using ARPA funds.

Commissioners also voted to approve $9,500 in ARPA funds to assist with emergency housing needs for Douglas County residents. West Central Minnesota Communities Action requested the funds and will use the money to temporarily house those in need.

The next board meeting will be held March 1 at 9 a.m. at 821 Cedar Street.

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