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County Board Meeting June 1

Posted: 06/02/2021

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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Douglas County Commissioners met June 1 in regular session.

Board Chair Jerry Rapp called the meeting to order and, after the Pledge of Allegiance and approval of the minutes and agenda, closed the regular session for a public hearing. The hearing was a continuation from the last board meeting and concerned petitions for removal of property from Douglas County Ditch No. 6.

Douglas County has 19 legal ditch systems which move water from point A to point B.

Those ditches pass through both private and publicly owned lands and specifically benefit those properties by draining water off the land or providing an outlet for drainage allowing the property to be farmed or developed.

In the establishment of a legal ditch, or through a re-determination of benefits on a ditch, all properties within the watershed area of that ditch, private and public, are viewed and benefits assigned.  Upon acceptance by the drainage authority, those benefits are then used to spread the cost of any repairs and/or improvements on that ditch.

Douglas County routinely provides beaver control and dam removal, noxious weed and woody vegetation control and seasonal inspections and maintenance as needed.

On CD #6, a landowner has requested the repair of Branch 2 of CD #6, which was last cleaned in 1984.  The estimated cost to repair that branch is $18,850. A redetermination of benefits was completed to determine an accurate and up to date list of property owners and benefits required to share the cost of that work.

Three property owners in that benefit roll petitioned to have their property removed from the benefited area. For county commissioners to order approval of that petition, three conditions had to be met per state statute:

  1. The waters from petitioners’ property have been diverted from the drainage system and cannot significantly or regularly use the drainage system.

     

  2. That the property is not benefitted by the drainage system.

     

  3. That removing the property from the drainage system will not prejudice the property owners remaining in the system.

 

After thoroughly reviewing the three properties in question, including onsite review by Douglas County Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson, commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the finding of the recent re-determination of benefits denying their petition for removal.  Thus, all property owners currently assigned benefits on Ditch 6 will be responsible for their share of any repairs or expense.

Commissioner Rapp closed the public hearing and reopened the regular session.

Public Works

Public Works Director Tim Erickson and Park Superintendent Brad Bonk appeared next before the board. They asked to create a Parks Committee. Douglas County parks are becoming increasingly popular, and many private entities are requesting to hold events in the parks. Bonk explained he wants to respond to these requests in a consistent manner. Erickson used the example of food trucks requesting to sell their products in the parks during events. The committee would draft a policy to determine how many trucks could be in a park at one time, what amount of garbage would be generated from such an event, etc. The commissioners approved the Parks Committee which will be composed of 5 members: Commissioner Keith Englund, Commissioner Heather Larson, Erickson, Bonk and Assistant Public Works Director Scott Green.

Sheriff

The board approved the 2021 State of Minnesota Annual County Boat and Water Safety Grant.

Social Services            

County Human Services Director Laurie Bonds requested to be approved as an authorized signor for the Fraud Prevention Investigation Grant.

Recorder’s Office

Recorder Mary Skillings asked for permission to write off $27.00 in uncollectable debt. The board approved the request and asked the county coordinator to draft a resolution allowing department heads to write off small debt without board approval. More details will be available following the passage of that resolution.

Skillings also informed the board she plans to use her technology budget to purchase a new scanner.

Auditor/Treasurer

Vicki Doehling asked for approval of a gambling permit for a raffle to be held at the Alexandria Shooting Park June 22. That is the final day of the Minnesota State Trapshooting event. She also asked the board to approve a temporary on-sale liquor license which will allow the Elks to sell alcohol at the Anderson Bash on July 23rd and 24th.

Library

Dawn Dailey, the Douglas County Library Director and Tessa Dutcher, chair of the Douglas County Library Board, shared with commissioners the current successes of the library and the plan for a needs assessment study.

Dailey came prepared with a list of fun activities happening at the library this summer including: children’s reading on the courthouse lawn on Wednesdays at 10:30 beginning June 9; state park passes available for check out; Friends of the Library annual book sale July 27, 28 and 29 at the Alexandria Armory; the Community Read featuring the book The Lager Queen of Minnesota; many make and take craft events; and the purchase, with grant funding, of a number of technology items that will be used in library events and training sessions.

Dutcher shared that the library board has decided to proceed with a needs assessment to determine if the community is interested in an expanded library in a new location.

Land & Resource Management

Director Dave Rush asked for approval of licenses for a construction company and a landscaping company to do business in Douglas County. He also asked for approval of the Final Plat for the Lake Andrew Estates Third Addition and Preliminary Plat approval for Ida Graves in Ida Township and Kanes Kingdom in Brandon Township.

He then explained the need for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Pilgrim Point Shores residential development. The project falls into a category that requires an EAW because it exceeds the 25-lot threshold, and the preserved space is under 50 percent of the land. Commissioners approved submission of the document to the Environmental Quality Board for publication and notice. Rush made note of the fact the county is developing a beach and park area adjacent to the proposed residential development. Once the EAW is published, there will be a 30-day comment period.

Finance

Finance Director Jill Frisell shared with commissioners the county has received $3.7 million in funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. The county will be eligible for that same amount in one year for a total of $7,408,442. A committee will determine how the money will be used.

County Board

The board approved a proposal to move forward with remodeling at the Douglas County Courthouse located at 305 8th Avenue West and the Services Center, located to the east. The remodeling will allow for a better use of space in the courthouse once the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office, Coordinator’s Office and the Finance Department move to the new Administration Building. The License Bureau will also move to the Administration Building.

The remodeling will include demolition and construction of new walls, mechanical HVAC work, new carpet, paint, relocation of fire sprinkler heads and other IT needs. The expected cost is $900,000 to $1.1 million.  Various departments within the two buildings will move into the remodeled spaces in late 2021. Look for more information in the months to come. No blueprints will be published. They are considered protected security data.  

Finally, the board approved a resolution concerning the establishment of Otter Tail County Ditch 71 to lower the water level of Nelson Lake and the potential impact on Lake Miltona and other lakes in Douglas County.

The lake has risen and is impacting a County State Aid Highway. However, as the resolution points out, Nelson Lake and Fish Lake are impaired for water quality due to high levels of phosphorus. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners, according to the resolution, encourages the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners to engage in a more thorough analysis of any and all alternatives to alleviate the high-water issues of Nelson Lake that do not include draining water to flowages that contribute to high-quality unimpaired lakes in Douglas County. Read the resolution below.

The board adjourned after reviewing and approving commissioner per diem payments.

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