Due to a mandate by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the state of Minnesota, a new county Sub-Surface Sewage Treatment System ordinance received final approval at the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 2.

The new ordinance will replace the Private Sewer Systems ordinance. Zoning Administrator Chris Graves explained the state wanted systems to be more uniform with others throughout the state. Changes include enforcing septic compliance in 12-month intervals instead of 18-months.

The new ordinance also includes an Alternative Standard for Amish septic systems. The county would be able to provide smaller systems for the Amish because their wastewater is mostly gray water and not sewage. Graves said if any Amish have indoor plumbing, they will have to have a system installed.

Commissioner Duane Bakke asked if the ordinance would apply to people who own a cabin. Graves said it would not apply. Bakke replied that he could see the county losing a court case over that issue if someone wanted to have a smaller gray water septic system installed at their cabin.

The ordinance was approved.

Personnel

New county coordinator Bobbie Jo Vickerman attended the board meeting with retiring coordinator Karen Brown. The board clarified that the coordinator would serve as the clerk for the board meetings or the coordinator's designee. Brown will complete her time at the county at the end of the month.

The board approved the hire of Neva Beier as the new social services manager, who will replace the retiring Gail Bunge at the end of the year.

County Road 124 closure

Following up on a discussion held at the Nov. 26 board meeting on the integrity of bridge #5833 on County Road 124, the board considered their options with the bridge.

County Engineer Ron Gregg and County Commissioner Tom Kaase had visited residents along the road who regularly cross the bridge and received their input on what should be done.

Kaase mentioned that some had questioned why the rating of the bridge wasn't dropping in conjunction with its deteriorating condition. Others had suggested the bridge be opened only to traffic up to the three-ton level.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud expressed his concern that the county would be held liable if they kept the bridge open and an accident occurred due to damage or a collapse.

The county would be responsible for the full cost of replacing or improving the bridge since it is a three-digit road. The county could apply for state funding, but would face an uncertain amount of time between now and when the bridge could be fixed.

Amunrud suggested the board close the bridge immediately, noting that the necessary detour wasn't a very long route.

Bakke stated that if the county kept the bridge open at a three-ton limit, they should consider reopening several other roads and bridges within the county that were closed with the similar reasoning, such as County Road 118 through Forestville State Park.

Kaase made a motion to post the bridge at the three-ton level, but it failed due to a lack of a second.

Amunrud moved to close the bridge immediately and begin to apply for funding to remove it. The motion passed four to one with Kaase voting against.

In other highway news, an overhead projector was purchased at $552 for the Highway Conference room.

Other business

• The board approved the 2014 budget and levy. The budget increased 11.3 percent to $25,464,025, but the county levy was held to the same amount as last year.

• The board set salaries for the commissioners and four other elected officials. The commissioners' salary was increased 1.5 percent to $20,300. County attorney salary was set at $94,500; auditor/treasurer, $73,500; recorder, $61,400; sheriff, $83,750 plus $6,000 as the assistant emergency manager.

• Appropriations for non-profits were approved as follows: Southeast Minnesota Initiative Fund, $2,000; SELCO, $210,597; Semcac, $5,500; Historical Society, $46,800; Memorial Day, $750; Ag Society, $37,000; Soil and Water Conservation District, $210,000 and a $4,389 match; Southeast Minnesota Bluff Country Housing Redevelopment Authority, $5,000.

• Garbage disposal minimum charges were approved to be increased to $5 from a previous charge of $3.