2016-04-28 / Front Page

More money goes to Prairie Lakes facility

By Karin Nauber
Todd County reporter

The Todd County Commissioners agreed at their April 19 meeting to make a payment of $127,658.04 to Ottertail County Auditor/ Treasurer per the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority (PLMSWA) Joint Powers Agreement.

One of the main questions was where they would find the money, which was not budgeted. After discussion the board determined the payment would come out of the Solid Waste Enterprise fund.

“I was surprised when we went to that meeting that we were going to owe this money. It would have been appreciated to have heard from solid waste or the member on that board that we were going to have to pay this,” said Commissioner Randy Neumann.

He also understood this was just the first payment and that another due in November would be for more.

Neumann advised asking Prairie Lakes where they will be in three years because this whole thing has been nothing but problems. The main issue was the generation of steam and selling it to Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Bongards Creameries.

“We can’t keep dumping money. I can’t explain it to my constituents. When Commissioner Erickson (who was absent from this meeting) is back, we need to discuss this more fully,” he said.

Chair Barb Becker said that they will discuss the incinerator more at the May 3 work session.

“My question is, where will the November payment come from?” asked Neumann.

Commissioner David Kircher said, “I was there, too, (at the waste facility meeting) and the November payment may not come because of a possible settlement with the burner installer.”

In a response to Neumann’s suggestion that Pope/ Douglas counties were doing better than Prairie Lakes, Kircher said that Pope/Douglas could be in the same boat that Todd County is in down the road.

He said that the problem with the burner was the fault of the contractor/ installer.

Jeremy Clasemann, Solid Waste, said Prairie Lakes is using the same burner as Pope/Douglas in their facility.

Commissioner Gary Kneisl who serves on the PLMSWA board will keep Auditor/Treasurer Denise Gaida informed of the status of any payment to be made in November. Kneisl said he may be absent from the May 3 meeting.

Becker mentioned that there may be another law- suit pending on the facility, as well.

Kircher said, “Ottertail County stuck their necks out on this and expect the joint powers counties to pay it just as we would expect from other counties.”

Neumann said that when they hire contractors who are licensed and bonded, they should have insurance to cover if they do shoddy work.

In other business, the board:

o Approved a Conditional Use Permit with conditions for landowner Joseph Eischeid to expand an existing feedlot in Section 35 of Villard Township to 999 animal units. o Accepted the resignation of Health and Human Services Family Services Unit Supervisor Heidi Brings, effective April 28. o A request to fill Brings’ position as nursing supervisor was tabled after extensive discussion. The role that Brings had as Nurse Family Partnership was being taken back to Morrison County to be supervised there.

Neumann asked to table the decision to hire because other actions which followed would be affected by this action.

HHS Director Jackie Och said that the nursing supervisor position was the same position and was separate from the Nurse Family Partnership. The change would be that the new hire would be on site at Todd County five days per week instead of two. Och said the work chart would not be different.

“I have questions on how this will work. If the (new hire) is more full-time here, where will the money come from?” asked Neumann.

Och said she did not know what else she could tell Neumann about this because the position would be the same.

Neumann asked who the new hire would oversee?

Och said it would be the same people Brings currently supervise.

Citizen Steve Beck said that the HHS department has too many supervisors and he would like to see a chart of who supervises whom. He thought they should be able to consolidate supervisors.

Och replied the chart would be the same as was distributed when social services and public health were integrated in 2012.

She went on to explain that they have many quality audits that require more administrative work. This involves different pay sources for different programs and that if her department didn’t maintain the quality, it could affect their payments.

“Let’s just table this. You and Commissioner Neumann can talk more,” said Becker. o Approved renewing the county’s participation in the Nurse Family Partnership Agreement. The NFP program is a home visiting program to first time pregnant mothers and their infants made by a public health nurse. The program was started in Todd County, then partnered with Morrison County, in Oct. 2010. During 2013 Wadena and Cass counties joined and the annual costs are shared by the four counties. o Acknowledged Receipt of a Repair Petition for County Ditch 18 in Iona Township. The request is to clean the entire ditch and look at improving the depth of the ditch to accommodate increased tiling in the area. o Approved an abatement as presented for Wayne Hansen. The parcel in question was assessed for six acres of commercial gravel pit in 2015. Hansen states that only 2.25 acres is usable. It has been about two years since anything has been dug out of the pit even though there is an active permit for the site. o Approved a request by Big Birch Lake LLC to change the use of an existing nonconforming structure from dwelling to water oriented accessory structure to allow the existing structure to remain on the lake lot after a residential dwelling is constructed. It was approved with conditions. o Denied a request to establish a Conditional Use Permit for a riding stable to serve as a destination for Circle R Ranch riders. The site is on a less than 8,000 square foot shoreland lot in Smith Lockes Addition and was denied because the proposed use would not be consistent with numerous small shoreland lots in close proximity. o With Neumann opposed, the board approved the 2017 Environmental Health fee schedule change with a two percent increase. Och noted they try to make this program balanced and with a neutral cost to the county.

Kircher asked if they could make an exception for schools, adding he was opposed to the fee at all.

Och said that in her opinion, the schools planned for this fee in their budgets through taxes.

Neumann said that there were many establishments going up for sale because with the increase in minimum wage, they just can’t afford any more increases.

Och said that the cost would come back to the county taxpayers if they didn’t increase the fees and Katherine Mackedanz added if the county didn’t do this service, the state would come in and charge more. o Approved the 2017-2018 Environmental Health Contract with Morrison County Public Health. Todd County contracts with Morrison County Public Health sanitarian staff to implement its environmental health program. The contract approved is for two years at a cost of $73,320. The old rate was $45 per hour for up to 17 hours per week. The new rate is $47 per hour for up to 15 hours per week. Mackedanz said that last year the county was billed $28,000 for services.

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