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County Board Meeting August 2 2022

Posted: 08/03/2022

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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At the August 2 meeting, the Douglas County Commissioners received several updates on recovery from the May storms. Assessor Stacy Honkomp asked them to approve a resolution to move forward with storm-related property tax relief for people and the cities and townships in which they live.  Commissioners approved her request.

A public affairs specialist with the Small Business Administration addressed the board. Laurie Dana shared that there are very low interest loans available for businesses, homeowners and renters impacted by the May 30 tornado. A Disaster Loan Assistance Center is open through August 11. It’s located at 1501 Hawthorne Street in Alexandria. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The Douglas County Housing and Redevelopment Authority addressed commissioners to review their annual budget proposal. Jon Ford, accompanied by accountant Sarah Alstead, spoke for HRA Executive Director Al Glaeseman who died the day before the meeting. Board Chair Tim Kalina asked for a moment of silence to remember Glaeseman and his many contributions to the county. Following that, Ford reviewed the 2023 budget for the HRA and told commissioners his office is administering loans for storm impacted people through Minnesota Housing. Those loans can turn into grants for qualified individuals. They are taking part in the Disaster Loan Outreach Center currently in operation at 1501 Hawthorne Street in Alexandria. It will be open through August 11.

Land and Resource Management

One of the many functions of county government is assisting people with developing their property or adding a business to an established lot. Director Dave Rush presented two requests for plats:

  • Lakeside Adventures located at County Road 16 and Little Chippewa Road. This is for one lot from larger farm acreage. It will not have access to Little Chippewa Lake.
  • Zander Addition which will replat three lake lots on Lake Carlos into two conforming lots.

Rush presented 4 conditional use permits

Two are for landscaping businesses, one was for Andrew Gabrielson who owns Ultimate Landscapes and Design which is located on Centennial Drive in Garfield. The other is for Michael Hvezda who started Rockwood Landscaping Company on his property on Mosquito Lane. That business has now grown and includes storage of equipment and materials.   

Farmers Union Oil company asked for approval to allow a commercial bulk propane storage and filling facility in Ida Township. It will be located near the Ida Township Hall. The area is zoned rural residential. Neighbors had raised concerns about increased traffic. The site will be used for loading bobtail propane trucks from a 45,000-gallon propane storage tank.

Paul Harmann Properties LLC asked to allow his company, Resorters Marine, to conduct retail sales and service along with storage of marine, powersports, and recreational equipment. The property, on County Road 82, was previously permitted for a rental storage business.

The board approved the requests with the conditions set by the Planning Commission.  

Board of Commissioners

The board also heard budget details and salary requests from the four elected officials in Douglas County.

Auditor Treasurer Vicki Doehling told the board her budget is lower than last year’s because there is no general election. She asked for a 2.5% raise.

Recorder Mary Skillings says her office expects revenues to increase in 2023 and she has hired a new, fulltime, deputy recorder and filled a part-time position. She asked for a raise which would bring her salary to $70,000.

County Attorney Chad Larson said his office will be fully staffed for the first time in a long time and he says this staff is prosecuting more felonies. So far in 2022 they’ve prosecuted 311 felony cases which is 33 more than last year. He asked that his salary remain in the ballpark to that of the sheriff.

Larson also spent time talking to commissioners about the recent statewide legislation allowing the legal sale of hemp-derived THC. He recommended they form a task force with other city and county leaders to discuss if the county wants to impose regulations on the sales and, if so, what kind of regulations those would be.

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen shared with commissioners his 2023 budget will reflect an increase over 2022. He said the majority of it is for payroll and insurance premiums, but he also requested two new dispatcher positions to handle the advances in technology for live streaming feeds from body and squad cameras. And he explained why the department needs to purchase new tasers. He says advanced technology make them more accurate and able to penetrate bulky winter coats.

The sheriff said his staff has been doing incredible work that is often dangerous and he asked the board to remember their dedication and commitment during the next negotiating period. He did not ask for a specific raise percentage but reiterated that he is an experienced and dedicated law enforcement official available 24/7 365 days a year.

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