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County Participates in Annual Association of Townships Meeting

Posted: 03/18/2021

Category: County Board, Departments

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Townships are a vital component of Douglas County. On March 17, leaders of the 20 townships gathered for the annual meeting of the Douglas County Association of Townships. They appeared in person and virtually. Douglas County commissioners routinely attend the event to learn more about the issues currently affecting townships.

The group discussed the American Rescue Plan and how additional federal funding could impact them; they agreed expanded broadband is an important topic; and they spent a great deal of time on the discussion of roads and meeting the needs of their growing communities.

Following a presentation by Vance Bachmann, the District 9 Director, a number of Douglas County department heads gave updates.

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen answered questions about parking ordinances and stray dogs. He then shared how Covid-19 has impacted the department and actually created some efficiencies that will continue into the future. One was handling certain calls to the sheriff’s office by phone and text correspondence rather than an in-person visit by a deputy. Sheriff Wolbersen says this approach is working very well. He emphasized if someone really wants to speak to a deputy face to face the request would be honored.

Vicki Doehling made her first appearance as Auditor-Treasurer. She is very familiar to the group because of her years managing elections in the county. She answered questions regarding townships moving their March elections to November and reviewed the past November election which had a number of townships opting for mail-in only ballots due to Covid-19.

Assessor Keith Albertsen made his final appearance before the township association. He will be retiring at the end of March. He said the demand for housing in Douglas County is intense and his office is seeing places selling for a lot more than the current assessed value. He, and Assistant County Assessor Stacy Honkomp, handed out information on changes in land value, building schedules, and sales ratios, as well as Board of Review schedules and short-term rentals. Albertsen said short term rentals are now classified as a residential non-homestead if they are rented for more than 14 days a year.

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Julie Anderson shared information on how the county would work with the townships to conduct damage assessments following a severe weather event. She also discussed outdoor warning sirens, which are locally owned and maintained, and the emergency notification messaging the county can do on behalf of a township.

Public Works Director/County Engineer Tim Erickson was the featured speaker after lunch. He discussed road projects and the Local Road Improvement Program and was available to answer questions on all public works issues.  

Gardonville representatives also shared the Gopher Bounty Program. They are asking the township leaders to encourage community members to trap gophers. Gardonville matches the amounts paid out by townships and Gardonville asked the townships in their coverage area if they would consider setting the same fee. Currently the payment ranges from $2.50 to $5.00. Gardonville explained that when a gopher chews through a fiber-optic cable, it’s well over $20,000 to repair and the cuts interrupt services like cell phones, television, 911 calls, and credit card transactions.

Overall, the townships and county participants seemed to agree that partnerships are key. The townships working together when possible, the townships working with the county and the county working with other counties when it’s in everyone’s best interest.     

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