Dodge County Commissioners Meeting February 13, 2024


The Dodge County Commissioners met in regular session February 13, 2024, in the Board Room at the Dodge County Government Services Building.

Mr. Kohlnhofer informed the Board that the Claremont hearing for the turnback of CSAH 5 and CR G was originally scheduled for March 12th, 2024. This hearing has to be rescheduled due to the townships annual meeting being scheduled on that date. The township informed the Highway Department that no other meeting may be held on March 12th, 2024. Claremont Township has requested that we move the hearing to April 9th, 2024. The township is willing to recess their regular meeting for the turnback hearing. The hearing would be held after the Hayfield Township turnback hearing at 6:30 p.m. The County Engineer is recommending that the Board set the Claremont Township turnback hearing for 7:45 p.m. April 9th, 2024 to allow time to complete the turnback hearing in Hayfield and get to Claremont. Motion by Toquam seconded by Tjosaas to move the CSAH 5 and CR G Turnback Hearing with Claremont Township to Tuesday, April 9th, 2024 at 7:45 p.m. as requested.

Revocation of CR K to Canisteo Township The County Engineer reported the process to revoke the designation of the North side of CR K, from CSAH 9 to CSAH 13 as a county road and turn it back to Canisteo Township has progressed throughout the past year. Discussions were held with Canisteo Township Officers and a public hearing regarding the revocation was held February 6, 2024. During the public hearing it was generally agreed by everyone present that this 3-mile section of CR K fits more appropriately at the township level. These roads are generally within 3 miles of more improved county roads and do not substantially make connections between other county roads or destinations. Therefore, they do not fit in the county network and are more suited to be township roads. County Highway staff will meet with township officers and a list of projects and improvements will be developed. These projects will be completed by the county during the 2-year mandatory transition period. Included in the Board packet was the proposed resolution which revokes CR K, from CSAH 9 to CSAH 13, as a county road and places it under the jurisdiction of Canisteo Township. Sunrise Trail Improvement Grant Application Assistant County Engineer Travis Martin reported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR) offers a Federal Recreation Trail Grant aimed at promoting the maintenance and development of motorized, non-motorized, or diversified trails by providing financial assistance. The Highway Department is in the process of preparing an application for this grant, which offers up to $200,000 and requires a minimum 25% match. Their intended use of the grant funds is to pave a 1.5-inch overlay on the 2.2-mile stretch of the Sunrise Trail and improve trail/roadway crossings. The estimated total cost of the construction project is $316,000, with the remaining $116,000 to be covered by local county funds. For this they would use wheelage tax funds for the local share. If the grant is successfully selected, the funds will become available in October 2024, and construction is anticipated to commence in the summer of 2025. The project is located on existing public owned lands between Kasson and Mantorville; and WHEREAS the County of Dodge recognizes that it has secured $116,000 in local cash matching funds for this project and must provide a twenty-five percent (25%) cash match. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, if the County of Dodge is awarded a grant by the Minnesota Department of Natural resources, the County of Dodge agrees to accept the grant award and may enter into an agreement with the State of Minnesota for the above referenced project. The County of Dodge will comply with all applicable state and federal laws, environmental requirements and regulations as stated in the grant agreement. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the applicant has read the Conflict-of-Interest Policy contained in the Trail Program Grant Manual and certifies it will report any actual, potential, or organizational conflicts of interest upon discovery to the state related to the application or grant award. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Board of Commissioners of the County of Dodge names the fiscal agent for the County of Dodge for this project as: Lisa Kramer Director of Finance Dodge County 721 N Main Street Mantorville, MN 55955 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the County of Dodge hereby assures the Sunrise Trail Improvement Project will be maintained for a period of no less than 20 years.

Mr. Miller provided the Board with a presentation on the state of the county's water for 2023. The Environmental Project Manager discussed the following with the Board: · · · · Regional Nitrate News Dodge County Nitrate Statistics Volunteer Nitrate Monitoring Network Support in Dodge County Commissioner Allen and Commissioner Toquam discussed funding the One Watershed One Plan groups are receiving and the difficulties they are experiencing with spending that money. It was suggested that Mr. Miller reach out to these entities to see if any of those funds could be used to improve water quality in Dodge County.

Commissioner Allen indicated that he believes Goodhue County is ahead of Dodge County in their efforts to clean up their waters. Commissioner Toquam noted people can come in and get free water test kits from Environmental Services. The Environmental Project Manager clarified that they have a limited amount of free water test kits, and when they are gone, they won't get another batch of free test kits again until August. Mr. Miller reported county residents still have the option to purchase water test kits for a fee once all of the free test kits have been distributed. Commissioner Toquam stated she feels the environmental practices they have in place now are better than they were 30 years ago. Ms. Toquam noted although farmers today are more aware of their impact on the environment and take steps to protect the environment, they are still being blamed for issues that may have been created by the farming practices years ago. Mr. Miller reported he believes we have better practices in place now and that is likely the reason that they are seeing the nitrate levels coming down. The Board thanked Mr. Miller for the update.

Brandon Servantez, Veteran Services Officer Resolution Request to Accept a Donation from Claremont Area Chamber of Commerce Mr. Servantez reported that the Claremont Area Chamber of Commerce donated $500 to put towards a new veteran services vehicle.

Paul Kiltinen, County Attorney Legal Update Mr. Kiltinen provided the Board with a legal update. The County Attorney informed the Board that they are now doing a jury trial calendar every month. This is different than what they've been doing, but it's helping to get some of the stale cases done. Mr. Kiltinen reported it's also easier for them because they can plan around when a jury trial is going to happen.

Mr. Hicks informed the Board that Dodge County IT is looking for approval to purchase all planned computers for 2024 at one time. The total cost for computers this year is $72,175. They are also looking to get the Microsoft Cloud project started. In order to do this, Information Technology will need to purchase our subscriptions and hire a vendor to help them out with this setup. The annual recurring subscriptions cost will be $125,400 with an additional $20,000 to hire a vendor to help us migrate to The Microsoft Cloud. The Director of Information Technology reported that both of these items are in the budget for 2024.

Mr. Rose reported that he has the city and school contracts for this year signed by City Administrators and Superintendents. These contracts are figured as was discussed during their budget presentation last year and are in need of Board Chair signatures. Contract terms and costs were listed as follows Triton School District School Resource Officer Services $18,144, Hayfield School District Resource Officer $14,730. City of Claremont Law Enforcement Services $75,190. City of Dodge Center Law Enforcement Services $318,683. City of Hayfield Law Enforcement Services $159,341. City of Mantorville Law Enforcement Services $107,334 Commissioner Allen informed the Board that he had concerns with the cost of the SRO Officer services and had an opportunity to discuss those concerns with the Sheriff prior to the meeting. Mr. Allen was concerned with the fact that the amount the schools were being charged for the SRO services weren't enough to cover the actual cost of the officers wages. Sheriff Rose informed Commissioner Allen that he inherited the contract amounts when he became Sheriff and that he has increased the SRO fees to the schools each year by 3% since he took office. Those fees were handled differently by the previous Sheriff and didn't keep up with the cost of the actual services that were being provided. Sheriff Rose assured the Board that when he has an opportunity to adjust those rates, such as the most recent increase in SRO services at the Triton School District, he has adjusted the rate to reflect the actual cost to provide those services. Mr. Rose noted the current rate is figured using 8 months of a Deputy's salary, which aligns with the length of the school year.

Sheriff Rose reported he is providing this lease update at the request of the Board Chair. The Sheriff’s Office has nine Tahoes that are waiting on parts for upfitting at the upfitters in Kasson. This is essentially 2 years of vehicles because of the market and backup with manufacturers, which was unfortunately out of their control. Four of these squads are replacing older owned vehicles, and five are replacing the Durango’s which were the first leased Enterprise vehicles. As soon as they have all the equipment and the squads are upfitted, these vehicles will go into service and the Sheriff’s Office will have Enterprise sell the vehicles being replaced. Moving forward, these nine Tahoes will remain in service for 4 years. They will then be sold and replaced based on mileage and other factors. The equity once sold will get rolled back into the lease to pay down the increased cost for new Tahoes. The equipment in these Tahoes will be used for two cycles, or 8 years - so they’ll have to pay labor in 4 years to switch out the equipment, but shouldn’t incur much for new equipment costs. Sheriff Rose noted this is one rotation cycle where they will have more than four or five vehicles to upfit, but unfortunately the market dictated that, not the Sheriff’s Office. The goals of this program were listed as follows: 1) Keep their staff in up-to-date vehicles to keep their Deputies safe and the public safe. 2) Reduce maintenance/repair costs. 3) Utilize equity to keep monthly rates low. 4) Make annual budgeting simple. 5) Quality equipment attracts quality candidates. Commissioner Toquam wanted to know if the Sheriff plans to stay with Tahoes now. Mr. Rose reported that they plan to stay with the Tahoes. They are a better vehicle, they can re use the equipment if the body style doesn’t change too much, and it’s the preferred squad.

Mr. Harbaugh reported that in order for the building to be erected at the Fairgrounds the county will have to hire an inspector for soils, concrete, and steel inspections along with a summary report. This is typical of all projects and AB Systems assumes $3,800 of the contracted amount as part of the project, the Facilities & Fleet Manager will work with AB Systems on the details of processing the payments/credits. Commissioner Allen reported that the county will have to absorb the remaining cost of the inspections.

The Dodge County Commissioners met in regular session February 27, 2023, in the County Board Room at the Dodge County Government Services Building, Mantorville, MN, at 5:00 p.m.

Mr. Martin presented for the Board’s consideration the 2024 weight restrictions resolution. The resolution lists the routes and segments as they are posted for Spring Load Restrictions. Restriction timing is recommended by MnDOT utilizing various methods to monitor thawing index and frost out. This timing notice is provided with a three-day advance of placing restrictions on State roads. As our roads are not typically built to the standards of the average State road we follow the initiation of load restrictions but then keep ours on approximately two weeks longer in the spring. As weather is unpredictable it is difficult to guess what road thawing is going to be like during any given season. The proposed resolution authorizes the County Engineer to set the timing of the load restrictions as necessary for the season.

The Community & Business Development Specialist reported the Economic Development focus in 2023 seemed to be heavily weighted in the child care arena for Dodge County. The lack of child care spaces in small communities can pose significant challenges for families and impact various aspects of community life. Adequate, quality child care options are crucial for workforce participation, especially for parents. Which is why a significant amount of time was spent addressing the lack of child care spaces and attempting to retain the providers that are licensed in the County and surrounding area. A shift in the availability and quality of child care services is due to retirement of providers. In 2000, there were about 86 licensed child care providers in Dodge County and as of 2023, that number was closer to 45. Without child care, it impacts the labor force participation rate, particularly among parents with young children. The retirement of providers creates a ripple effect that extends beyond the child care sector, influencing various aspects of the economy, education, real estate, and community well-being. The nature and magnitude of these effects depend on local factors, policies, and the adaptability of the community to address changing needs. Multiple programs from the State, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and other resources are available to increase child care capacity and the EDA will continue to stay on top of them and work with MN Prairie, school districts, centers and the Dodge County Licensed Child Care Association (DCLCCA) providers to see how they can continue to retain, recruit and increase capacity and providers in the County.

Commissioner Peterson expressed his displeasure with the rifle supplies that were purchased by the Sheriff's Office as listed on page 8 of the bills, in the amount of $11,164.01.