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home : government : county May 22, 2015

3/19/2013 2:07:00 PM
County Board hires lobbyist for SEMMCHRA dispute

By Gretta Becay

At their meeting March 12, 2013, the Dodge County Commissioners approved a proclamation recognizing the Kasson-Mantorville wrestling team's achievements at the state wrestling tournament. These include a team AA state championship, an academic silver award for a team grade point average of 3.42, and individual state champions 126 pound Nate Thomas, 138 pound Coltan Laganiere, and 285 pound Sam Stoll.

"Staff safety first," emphasized the commissioners when they learned more about the radon gas readings recorded in the basement of the old courthouse building.

Matthew Maas, emergency management director for the county, said state Department of Public Health spokesman Joshua Miller suggested the county use a 'continuous-read' meter in the rooms where the radon gas readings had been taken. (Radon gas readings taken in the last few months showed radon gas accumulations in some rooms in the courthouse to be higher than considered safe by EPA standards.)

The meter records the gas levels every hour and, using a graph provided by that department, Maas showed the commissioners how the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units move air to dissipate the gas during the day when the building is occupied. At night when the air-handling units seldom run, the gas collects. Using an ordinary device to measure the gas levels therefore gives the impression the gas levels are high all the time instead of only when the building is typically unoccupied.

Miller was able to lend Maas one of the continuous-read meters and Maas began retesting the building readings immediately. The commissioners will have the data before they decide if further mitigation measures are needed.

Attorney Brian Weber asked the commissioners to waive the requirement that an estate that is dividing property amongst heirs must have for a survey of the new property lines. An email from Weber provided to the board stated, "A survey will cost an estate approximately $1,500 each. This is an unnecessary expense to an estate where no sale is taking place and the land is merely being distributed amongst the children or heirs." After lengthy discussion the board members decided not to grant the request. Commissioner David Erickson said, "Is this an anomaly? The bottom line still is that there are more owners of the property. How do you craft an ordinance to deal with this?"

Tom Radio, attorney from Best and Flanagan law firm in Minneapolis talked to the commissioners about detaching the county from the southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, (SEMMCHRA). The county has tried to exit the authority for several years and has been unsuccessful. The law firm also has a lobbyist available who will monitor legislation (what started as Senate File No 896 and House File No 1027) for the county. The legislation allows multicounty HRA Boards to, " ...approve up to 25 per cent of their levy authority without county board approval," (From a letter to the county's nine legislators.)

Wednesday, March 13, the Property and Local Tax Division committee heard the house bill and county administrator Jim Elmquist said that the provision for SEMMCHRA was then pulled from the bill. The lobbyist will now watch to see if it becomes attached to other legislation. The commissioners voted to spend up to $5,000 for lobbying efforts to thwart the legislation.

Commissioners also approved:

• Revisions to the county's Family Medical Leave Act as required by the U.S. Department of Labor. The requirements included expansion of the military caregiver leave and other items.

• The Community Corrections Act subsidy agreement with Olmsted and Fillmore County. The agreement allows the Dodge-Fillmore Olmsted (DFO) Joint powers board to receive state Department of Correction's funding.

• With gratitude, donations from Erdman Charitable Board - $500 for Drug Court incentives and from the county United Way - $2,500 for the county DARE Program.

• Allowing two deputies to drive their squad card to and from their homes in Byron. Sheriff Jim Jensen explained that the men lived closer to Mantorville than he does, even though he lives in Dodge County. The practice allows the deputies to respond more quickly to calls from home if needed and increases the amount of time they are on patrolling county roads in their vehicles.

• A Conditional Use Permit for Hodgman Drainage Co to have an ag-related business in the agricultural district in Wasioja Township.

The commissioners' next regular meeting is at 9:30 a.m. March 26, at the county courthouse.

Claremont Service

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