BLUE EARTH - Faribault County commissioners have approved a property tax levy increase of 1.1 percent for 2011.
The board also approved next year's budget, with some increases.
"Revenue is up over 12 percent, mostly due to state aid road projects," said County Auditor/Treasurer John Thompson.
Expenditures are up 8 percent.
Commissioner Tom Loveall asked about the $208,000 that will not need to be sent to Prairieland Compost Facility in Truman because the facility's bonds are paid off. Thompson said the money is being held in the sanitation budget until such time as it may be needed.
Loveall later addressed his colleagues about holding Prairieland accountable for spending its board of directors is authorizing.
Loveall and Commissioner Tom Warmka said they have called for a business plan from Prairieland. Other commissioners expressed support for getting more details on how Prairieland will operate in the future.
"We're already moving away from composting and into RDF (refuse-derived fuel)," Loveall noted.
He wants to see numbers on how the compost facility is doing and added, "I think our staff is woefully underperforming in getting those numbers to us. That's (Prairieland director) Mark Bauman's job to do that."
Loveall challenged the Prairieland board to carefully consider how it will spend money in the future.
"We've got $600,000 because the bonds are paid up," Loveall said. "What I don't want to see is us just going out and spending it."
Commissioners approved a motion to have Prairieland develop a comprehensive business plan on current operations, and a comprehensive business plan on RDF operations.
In other action, commissioners approved:
o Placing an ad to hire a property appraiser, since Joe Udderman will move up to interim county assessor.
o Hiring Daniel J. Bullerman of Bricelyn as a new deputy sheriff. He has been working part time for Faribault County for seven years.
o Salaries for County Recorder Sherry Asmus at $23.75 per hour, or $46,312 annually, and for County Attorney Troy Timmerman at $39.72 an hour, or $82,617 annually.
o Sending a letter of support to WFS to locate a new terminal in Faribault County, specifically Delavan.
o Keeping the county board's salaries, per diem and mileage rates in 2011 the same as this year. Commissioners will receive 46 cents per mile and $17,000 in salary.
o Decided to proceed with caution about accepting Highway 109 from the state. The section of road runs from Winnebago to Wells.
Doug Haeder, assistant district engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Peter Harff, project manager of bituminous reclamation, spoke to the board about the matter.
Harff explained how the road first would be rebuilt by the state.
The board discussed the heavy vehicles that use the road.
"I've farmed along there for 40 years. That thing has never held up," Warmka said.
"Why is it in Faribault County's interest to take the road back?" Loveall asked.
"It's not a gainer for your funding, county or system," Haeder said. "Only reason you do it is we're asking you."
"You also have control over the road," Harff said. "It's a lower-priority road to MnDOT."
Commissioner Bill Groskreutz suggested appointing a committee to visit with MnDOT to consider the long-term repercussions of the transfer.
"What are the benefits and costs to Faribault County?" Groskreutz asked. "What is your long-term working relationship with MnDOT if you turn this down?"