Supervisors Approve Levies
Levies on drainage projects in jointly controlled drainage districts were approved by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting on Feb. 1. The board members also set a time for a public hearing to amend the county’s Mental Health Strategic Action Plan during the meeting at the Palo Alto County Courthouse.
The board reviewed a levy set by the Emmet County Board of Supervisors for work done in joint Drainage Districts 17 and Joint DD 21, Line B Lateral 2. For Joint DD17, a levy of $37,125 was approved, while a levy of $6,510.25 was approved for Jt. DD 21.
In a conference call with the Kossuth County Board of Supervisors, a levy of $1,500,000 was approved for work done in Tri-Joint Drainage District 84, which includes Emmet, as well as Palo Alto and Kossuth Counties. The levy would be spread over 20 years and was approved on a unanimous vote. A levy for work done in Palo Alto-Kossuth DD 34, near Fenton, was approved in the amount of $235,000. A total of 18 acres inside Palo Alto County were annexed into the district during a recent repair project.
Palo Alto Supervisors also accepted a drainage petition filed by Herbert Morey and 10 landowners in Drainage District 29, located in Section 16 of West Bend Township, requesting repairs to a tile main in the district. As part of the acceptance, the board also appointed Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard and Associates of Estherville to serve as the project engineer, at the request of the petitioners.
County Engineer Joel Fantz, who was on hand when the petition was accepted, asked the board to request that any work on the district that involved new tile running under County Road B63 be done as soon as possible, as work is being planned on B63 in the near future.
“It just seems like if we do paving work, a tile or culvert has to be replaced after our project and we have to cut up a new road,” Fantz said. “It would be nice if any work there could be done before we start our project.”
In his report to the supervisors, Fantz noted that the acquisition of right-of-way has begun for the north bypass project, which has 90 parcels of land identified for acquisition.
A personnel matter was also explained to the board by the engineer.
“We have also offered full-time employee status to Robby Johnson, who has been a part-timer for the bast three years,” Fantz noted. “That would make his salary $16.82 per hour.”
“I take it he was agreeable?” Board Chair Keith Wirtz asked.
“Oh yes,” Fantz answered. “Only Mike Hartman and I had discussed this and Mike was in agreement and Robby was surprised and very appreciative of the opportunity.”
In other business, the board met with County Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg to discuss a possible payment of $44,000 to Seasons Center for Community Mental Health in Spencer to assist the organization in easing a cash-flow problem. The possibility of having the member counties of Seasons all contribute to the organization had been raised several weeks earlier.
According to Sandberg, most of the counties served by Seasons had already indicated they would make the payment, but one county, O’Brien, was struggling with financial difficulties itself and might not agree to make the payment. Osceola and Dickinson Counties have also not committed to make the payments, but had not ruled out the possibility.
“I guess I’m wondering what would happen if we said we weren’t going to pay,” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan. “Are they going to refuse to serve our clients?”
“I don’t think so,” Sandberg said. “We have a contract for catchment with them and I would certainly think they would want our business.”
According to Sandberg, the Spencer Municipal Hospital is watching the developments closely, due to the fact their facility also has a mental health unit that works closely with Seasons Center.
“I don’t think they’d turn us away either,” Noonan said. “And I’m wondering what the hospital would do if Seasons can’t get this funding help. Maybe we should call their bluff.”
“I don’t recommend you do anything until we get a revised contract from Seasons that addresses the additional funding,” Sandberg said.
The discussion continued for a few minutes, but ultimately the board agreed to table the issue to see if Seasons will provide contracts that specifically address the additional funding, and any provisions for possible repayment of the extra monies back to the counties.