The Houston County board took care of quite a number of year-end duties at its Dec. 26 meeting.

Commissioners voted to petition the Minnesota Bureau of Water and Soil Resources for permission to begin a revision of the county's water management plan.

"The plan looks pretty solid," Ron Meiners of the Root River Soil and Water Conservation District told the board. A two-year extension to complete the process has been approved by state authorities, so the county will have until Dec. 31, 2014, to complete the process, he added.

Meiners said that the effects of frac sand mining will be incorporated into the document, which will mainly address water runoff issues.

Every five years the plan is required to be updated. In 2017, the entire water plan will have to be re-written. That will involve a much more intensive study, he noted.

"The board is going to need your input (on frac sand mining)," Commissioner Tom Bjerke told Meiners.

"If the board wants to lean on the (water) district, we would be interested in becoming partners in that," he replied.

Jail inmate rates lowered

The board acted on a request by jail administrator Mark Schiltz, lowering the per-diem charge to house out-of-county inmates at the Justice Center from $55 to $50.

"We want to stay competitive with surrounding counties," Schiltz said. "I don't want to go over them, but I also don't want to undercut anybody." Fillmore County recently sent an inmate for boarding, he explained.

Hwy. project re-bid saves money

Commissioners voted to award a highway construction project on Christianson Hill Road to low-bidder J.B. Holland. County engineer Brian Pogodzinski said that the re-bid of the project carried an estimated cost of $877,726. Holland's bid came in at $836,502. There were a total of three bidders.

Truck purchase put off

Pogodzinski asked the board to approve the purchase of a used mechanic's truck for the county's Highway Department. Commissioners tabled the $34,000 offer for a fully outfitted used (2003) GMC C6500 commercial truck with box, jib crane and welder, asking for more information on the possibility of pursuing other options.

Pogodzinski said that there was funding in his 2012 budget for the purchase. The current truck wasn't accepted as a trade-in, but could be sold, he added.

The equipment monies will roll over into the department's 2013 fund balance, finance director Carol Lapham reported.

Airport grant possible

Pogodzinski reported that he had not been able to contact fliers to solicit donations towards the overlay of the Houston County Airport runway.

The county's share of the cost of adding three inches of asphalt is estimated at around $18,000, he stated.

Pogodzinski asked for a copy of the motion made to repave the runway, so he could present it to the Arlin Falck Foundation.

That organization has already pledged $25,000 towards a potential re-alignment of the runway and may approve re-routing a portion of those funds towards an overlay of the current landing strip, Pogodzinski said.

Re-allocations reviewed

The board approved a re-allocation request for the transfer of $99,779 from the Recorder's Technology Fund.

Recorder Bev Bauer asked that the formal request to amend her budget be approved, and it was.

That fund was tapped to pay for computer hardware, contract services, computer maintenance, software licensing and more by various county departments in 2012.

Bauer also brought a report on where $54,442 of Compliance Fund dollars were spent. Those expenditures were already approved by previous motions, she added.

After 2012 spending, the technology fund is now at approximately $80,000 while the compliance fund is about $99,000, she reported.

Commissioner Tom Bjerke asked if fees were keeping the funds stable.

Bauer replied that the tech fund is trending lower, but some expenses should be less next year. That's because a large scanning project for e-documents (conversion of paper documents to electronic files) was done in 2012.

"This coming year shouldn't be quite so bad," Bauer said. "In the next year, hopefully by the end of 2013, we're going to do e-recording."

The compliance fund will be used by several departments for upgrades in 2013, but the county should try to maintain $60,000 to $70,000 in order to meet whatever needs might arise, Bauer stated.

By state statute, her department has a limited time to process documents, she said. That is what the compliance fund is intended to provide help with, even going so far as to provide temporary help for backlog situations when land-use documents are being processed. If real estate sales pick up, more fees are routed into the fund, Bauer said.

Other budget items brought up

Lapham brought a series of "housekeeping" items, all of which were approved.

They included the establishment of designated funds for 2013. Those include accounts to keep fiscal agent monies and Joint Board of Health funds in. Funds for now-defunct projects were also closed. A number of fund balances were transferred from 2012 to 2013 accounts, including monies from Information Technology.

One of the largest was $25,000 for an ongoing electronic documents management system upgrade.

IT director Andrew Milde said that regardless of which EDMS system the county accepts, he will still need to set up a "SAN" (storage area network) with the money.

Various contracts approved

Environmental Services director Rick Frank brought a series of contracts for calendar year 2013. They included hauler's licensing, Richard's Sanitation drop-off sites agreements and ABC/Woodland Industries agreements for labor provided for the collection and processing of recyclable materials.

All of the agreements represent a continuation of current arrangements. They were approved on a single motion.

Another series of contracts for the continuation of business as usual in 2013 was approved on a single motion. Human Services director Linda Bahr brought all five agreements, which were ratified and signed.