Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) administrator Donna Rasmussen and Emergency Management director Kevin Beck updated the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners concerning possible additional funding for flooding damage on Tuesday, July 23.

Rasmussen and the SWCD were evaluating the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that would provide funding for flooding damages that had created threats to life. An NRCS area engineer had visited the county, viewed sites from a prioritized list and concluded none of the sites would be eligible for funding. Rasmussen asked the board how they wanted to proceed.

Commissioner Duane Bakke said it seemed like the program would help out more if there was no money coming through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The county is still waiting to hear if President Obama will declare a major disaster area for 18 Minnesota counties affected by severe weather and flooding June 20 to 26. Once a declaration is issued, FEMA will come back to the state to help counties apply for project funding. Beck said the state feels there is no reason why the President wouldn't make a disaster declaration.

Bakke said he didn't think the county should do anything with the EWP. Beck mentioned Houston County applied and would receive up to $700,000, but that "they have a different situation."

Rasmussen said the county would have until Aug. 23 to make a decision.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud said it would be another tool the county could end up using. The county board did not approve participation in the EWP.

Beck said his office is trying to check into every opportunity.

Commissioner Chair Randy Dahl said the citizens cared about the effort the county was putting into it.

Sheriff to retire

Sheriff Daryl Jensen, who has served in county law enforcement for 35 years, announced his intent to retire following the completion of his term at the end of 2014. Jensen said announcing his plans would help answer the questions he said people have been asking him since he turned 50.

"My answer has been all the same, 'I don't know,'" Jensen said, noting he had felt now would be a good time to step down.

He said it would also help the sheriff's office and other people develop their plans in his remaining 17 months. The county has had a history of appointing sheriffs since 1989 and will need to decide whether to appoint another or hold an election.

Dahl stated that he hoped the next sheriff would bring as much integrity and wisdom as Jensen had to the position.

Pay requests granted

County Highway engineer Ronald Gregg received approval for three final payments relating to the Highway Administration building remodeling project.

Dahl congratulated Gregg on the job he did coordinating and completing the project. "It needed to be done," Dahl remarked.

In a highway committee update, Bakke said it had been determined the building would continue using a new water system to deal with an odor in the drinking water. He said the piping couldn't be replaced without making a larger mess since the building is on a dead-end system.

Grant denied

Bakke also told his fellow commissioners that the grant application for the Eagle Cliff Spur Trail through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had been turned down. He said the county would probably go back and reapply next year for funding for the joint project between the county and Eagle Cliff Campground near Whalan.

Amunrud asked if the county could just do the project.

Bakke said it was along a state highway and wouldn't make sense to do it.

Bakke also updated the board on projects either completed or nearing completion. He thanked Gregg for handling all of the projects and the emergency flood work as well.

Following a question about the County Road 24 incident where two trucks drove onto concrete that hadn't quite cured, Gregg reported that pre-screening done on core samples had looked good.

County audit

County coordinator Karen Brown presented a report on the recently completed 2012 county audit. The audit received a "present fairly" opinion and was acceptable.

The county's total net assets increased by three-tenths of a percent to almost $116 million due to a planned reduction in road and bridge expenses. The overall unassigned fund balance was just over $1 million. Overall fund balances decreased by roughly $1.2 million or 13.4 percent. This was caused by decreases in Human Services and Road and Bridge funds for unanticipated expenses. It was also caused by decreases in Infrastructure Funds for interoperability expenses and necessary renovations to the Highway Administrative building.

A federal fund audit concluded that Fillmore County complied with all requirements that have effects on its federal programs.

Long-term debt decreased by $144,861 due to a bond payment for the 2010 General Obligation Capital Improvement Program. Brown advised the county to monitor decreasing fund balances while also keeping the levy balance low to help the taxpayers.

Community services

Community Services director Beth Wilms presented a resolution to the board for approval regarding the county's managed health care services. Wilms said staff had reviewed proposals and recommended the board approve UCare and Blue Plus as the managed care organizations for the county. The commissioners accepted the resolution.

Wilms shared that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was surprisingly pulled out of the U.S. House of Representatives' farm bill and would be addressed separately. The U.S. Senate had passed their version of the farm bill with SNAP included. Wilms said SNAP has become a partisan issue and it wasn't clear how things would become resolved in a future House-Senate conference committee.

Staff will begin a seven-week training period on Aug. 12 for the Oct. 1 go-live date for the new health insurance marketplace, MnSure. Wilms said the county would be able to handle the expected increase of people coming through the doors. She said the county is expecting to see people who work in places with 50 employees or more, since business employers will have a one-year reprieve from providing employee health insurance through MnSure.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners discussed the following issues.

• The board approved a resolution proclaiming July 21 to 27 as Pre-trial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week. Shelley McBride from the Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections office took time to recognize and thank staff members for the work they do. Curt Petzel, Grant Smith, Angela Lange, Kristine Frisby, Star Polzin and Kari Berg were recognized.

• The board approved the resignation of custodian John Dollar and subsequently approved the internal and external advertisement for a full-time replacement. In the meantime, the board approved the hire of a temporary custodian.

• The board approved an access permit to County-State Aid Highway 23 for Mike and Connie Thedens to move their current access.

• Upon recommendation by zoning administrator Chris Graves, the board discussed and approved the purchase of a 2013 Ford F-150 crew cab for $25,410.

• In order to more fully discuss the 2014 budget, the board of commissioners will hold a regular meeting on Aug. 20 in addition to their meetings on Aug 6, 13 and 27. All meetings are open to the public.