One potentially contentious item on the Wednesday, Aug. 21, agenda of the Chisago County Board of Commissioners turned out to be an issue that was not reviewed at all.
The commissioners were preparing to consider a proposal by Tiller Corporation for an interim use permit to allow for the extraction of sand and gravel as well as “crushing, screening, stockpiling, hauling and reclamation activities” on a 10.6 acre site in Sunrise Township.
The site, located at 12956 River Road, is next to two abutting tracts of land the company acquired in the early 2000s.
The county’s Planning Commission approved the proposal by a narrow 4-3 vote, and the commission requested the company, which is based in Maple Grove, provide an updated road maintenance and dust control plan for that section of road.
On May 15 the company was given 60 days to complete the required action. In July the company asked for an extension of the deadline to the Aug. 21 County Board meeting. During the citizens forum, which gives individuals an opportunity to address the commissioners, both Pete Johnson, chair of the Sunrise Township Board of Supervisors, and Tiller Corporation representative Mike Caron asked for another extension.
The meeting was adjourned so the two sides could meet, and five minutes later the two sides announced they wished to postpone any action on the proposal until Oct. 16 or Nov. 5, with additional meetings between the two sides in the interim.
When Commissioner Mike Robinson asked how long the deadline could be extended, County Environmental Services Director Kurt Schneider said, “As a county, we can only extend the 60-day consideration period once, to 120 days. But if an applicant expresses the desire to extend the consideration of the request, it can be granted.”
The commissioners immediately agreed to extend the deadline.
2019 Budget Update
The commissioners received an update on the Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Aug. 13 from interim County Administrator Chase Burnham.
“Currently the county is trending normally, except for the Health and Human Services Department,” he said.
That committee also discussed the 2020 budget, which at the moment includes a 3.5 percent levy increase. Burnham said individual county departments are preparing their budgets for 2020.
“The committee is not ready to make a recommendation on what (the) budget increase should look like,” said Commissioner George McMahon, who is on the committee. “We are looking at personnel and their salary ranges; some of our employees and directors are not being paid what the market is paying. That costs us because we train people, and then they move on [to a higher-paying job].
“By the next board meeting, I think we should be ready as to where we should be with our next budget.”
McMahon added that beyond the 3.5 percent levy increase for operations, there may be a bump of a percentage to pay employees.
“We’re losing personnel, and our personnel are way underpaid,” he said.
County roads update
County Engineer Joe Triplett brought the commissioners up to speed on county road construction, noting that the bridge replacement project on County Road 93 is complete, while Highway 39 was expected to be paved before schools opened after Labor Day.
Paving on County Road 67 is complete, while paving of county roads 81 and 59 should be completed soon. Work on County Road 78 will start after Labor Day.
Looking ahead, Triplett said he hopes work on Trunk Highway 8 will start in May 2020 as planned, but the Hemmingway Roundabout in North Branch will be pushed back until 2020.
“The city had intended for the work to be done this year, but it’s getting late to submit bids and start construction,” he said, adding that construction should start next May.
Work on county highways 19 and 25 also should take place, while County Highway 30 construction should take place in 2021.
New monitoring contract
The commissioners approved a contract with Minnesota Monitoring Services to provide monitoring for Chisago County residents under house arrest, as well as alcohol monitoring and other monitoring services.
At its previous meeting, the County Board canceled a contract with Midwest Monitoring and Surveillance just one month after the contract had been signed.
These services had been bid earlier this year, with Minnesota Monitoring Services – which had most recently held the contract for these services in the county – finishing second to Midwest Monitoring. Once that contract had been canceled, the commissioners decided to go with the second lowest bid.