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Governor’s plan would have local impact

County engineer says tax hikes could mean $6 million to county

March 10, 2019
Kevin Mertens - Register Staff Writer (kmertens@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

Governor Tim Walz's proposed transportation plan came up for discussion at the Faribault County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 5.

Walz's proposal would increase the gas tax, registration tax, motor vehicle sales tax and shift the auto parts sales tax back to the general fund.

Mark Daly, the county's Public Works director, told the board the impact of the proposal, if it passed in its current form, would result in a total of $6,270,391 new revenue coming to the county beginning in 2020 and continuing through 2023. The money would be sent to the county in the form of state aid distribution.

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Amy Wachlin, the license bureau supervisor, spoke with the commissioners about ongoing changes at the license bureau. She informed the board of the many struggles which take place when dealing with the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLSRS) and the problems customers have using it.

Daly pointed out 100 percent of the gas tax goes to the highway use fund.

Next, Daly informed the board of a report he had received on the load ratings for 23 bridges located in the county.

Seven bridges in the county are going from legal weights, which they have had for the last 30 years, down to a three-ton maximum capacity over the bridge.

"An F-350 pickup weighs 7,000 pounds," Daly said. "So what they are telling me is we have gone from being able to take legal loads across the bridges to not even being able to drive a pickup across the bridge."

The news was shocking, according to Daly, because none of the bridges were scheduled to be replaced. Now, their replacement has become critical. Daly explained most of the bridges affected were steel culverts and six of them were located on gravel township roads.

"We are also going to have a posting on one of our county roads, County Road 2, east of Kiester," Daly said. "This one is also shocking because this bridge is going from legal loads to 34,000 pounds, less than half of the 80,000 normal legal limit."

Most of the bridges will be replaced by concrete box culverts, Daly explained.

The great skid-steer debate was finally settled with the board voting to purchase a Bobcat T650 from Yeager Implement at a cost of $58,700.

A proposal to purchase a new vehicle to transport county veterans to and from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center was presented to the board by Jenna Schmidtke, the county Veterans Service Officer.Schmidtke had received two local and one state dealer bid.

The board voted to accept the state dealer bid to purchase a Ford Flex, which is an all-wheel drive, seven-passenger vehicle, from Midway Ford in Roseville. The purchase cost is $30,385, plus applicable taxes and fees. It was the state dealer bid and the lowest bid received. The new vehicle should arrive in approximately six weeks.

Schmidtke also presented the board with information regarding the VA Video Connect program which enables a person to conduct visits with their provider in a virtual medical room, using a phone, computer or tablet.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs covers the cost of the equipment, according to Schmidtke. The board voted to implement this program.

Amy Wachlin, the license bureau supervisor, gave an update on changes which have occurred at the license bureau.

She verified what has been reported across the state regarding the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), saying it is a very dysfunctional, difficult program which causes stress and upsets customers.

She also reported there were 12,831 motor vehicle registrations in 2018, 2,932 driver's license applications or renewals and 696 Department of Natural Resources registrations for off road vehicles.

In other business:

The board approved a motion to hire ISG to prepare a plan for roof replacement at the Faribault County Annex and the connecting link to the courthouse building.

A motion to purchase a new copier for the Veteran's Services Office was approved.

The board voted to accept a $3,500 donation from the American Legion Post No. 82 gaming account. The money will be used to help purchase ballistic panels for the Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) program.

 
 

 

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