The Kingsbury County Commissioners met on Tues., Aug. 2 to discuss several different topics including raises, the cannabis ordinance, man camps and a proposed road levy.
Echo Steffensen asked for wage increases for several different county personnel including Deputy Auditor, Deputy Treasurer, Deputy Register of Deeds, 4-H assistant, Deputy of Equalization, Clerk of the Director of Equalization and Clerk of the Treasurer.
The commissioners approved a wage increase of a dollar per hour and also increased the starting pay to $16 per hour.
Medical Cannabis: Joe Jensen informed commissioners that he was contacted regarding putting a new ordinance in place to allow grow facilities around Arlington. The proposed ordinance would alter the current ordinance to include County Highway 45, Highway 14 and Highway 81 around Arlington to be open for potential medical cannabis grow facilities.
Steffensen reminded the commissioners that in order to make this change, they would need to go through the entire process of setting a new ordinance again.
Commissioners questioned whether they want to approve a new ordinance, because they don’t want people to think they can start building a grow facility and ask for a variance later. There would be no point in having an ordinance if they allow variances every time.
Shawn Geyer informed the commissioners that he was told a person in Arlington is refurbishing an old hog barn to make into a grow facility. From what Geyer has heard, the property does not fall within the current ordinance where grow facilities are allowed.
“I hope that whoever this person is, that they’ve done their homework,” said Doug Kazmerzak. “And they aren’t spending a lot of money on a facility that is not in compliance with our ordinance. Obviously, they are going to face the consequences of that.”
Joe Jensen said he will need to investigate this; he hasn’t had anyone contact him regarding building permits.
“I’m pretty comfortable with the plan,” said Kazmerzak. “I think we’ve covered the basics. We’ve spent a lot of time emphasizing control yet understanding opportunity and entrepreneurship, and I think we’ve come up with a great plan.”
The commissioners eventually decided to approve the publication of the proposed ordinance. They will have the first reading on Sept. 6
Man Camps: The commissioners discussed the need for an ordinance regarding man camps. They want to have something in place well before GEVO brings in workers to begin on their new facility.
Commissioners agreed they don’t want old trailers sitting around, and most importantly, they need to come up with guidelines on how things must be when the work is done, and the workers leave.
Todd Wilkinson has started working on basic guidelines for the proposed man camps, but the commissioners decided to ask him to get things ready as soon as he can, so they have plenty of time to discuss the rules and get the ordinance in place well before any workers begin moving in.
Jensen agreed that they should get something in place as soon as possible, but he believes they should have time to get everything in place. He doesn’t believe GEVO will begin construction until at least March of 2023.
Commissioners agreed they would like to have the ordinance require land be put back to its original condition after the man camps are no longer needed, unless they decide to turn it into a campground afterward.
Commissioners continued discussion about whether or not to stay with the opt out or decide on an amount for a road levy.
Although it is not required to hold a public hearing on the levy, Kazmerzak wondered if they could hold a meeting in order to get the public’s opinion on the issue. Steffensen said she would check if it would be okay to hold a public meeting.
Steffensen presented the commissioners with a graph she had created showing how the opt out or two different levees would potentially work and affect the budget.
The commissioners decided to take the graphs home and spend more time looking them over before they discuss a levy any further.
Steven Melnick and Brenda Bosch presented the commissioners with some options from Colonial Life for employees including Delta Dental, life insurance and a hospital plan.
Melnick asked the commissioners for their approval to meet with the county employees and offer what he has available for them through Colonial Life. He offered to come down for two days to meet with each employee to discuss available coverage and answer any questions.
The Delta Dental plan he could offer is better than the current plan available, and the rates are cheaper. The life insurance would also be cheaper, as Melnick stated he could offer $10,000 in coverage for each employee for two dollars a month.
The hospital plan offered would give money back to employees based on different categories of doctor or hospital visits. The plan cost is based by age, but once it is purchased, the plan cost is locked.
Commissioners made the motion to allow Colonial Life to come in and offer their services to the county employees. Current coverage goes month to month, so the employees could switch over their coverage to Colonial Life at any time.
• CPR training and certification through the Red Cross will be made available for all county employees. Shelley Strande is working to plan a time best for the majority of workers and those doing the training.
• Lonny Palmlund gave an update on different projects he is working on at the courthouse. His current priority is upkeep of the courthouse grounds and changing the courthouse lights over to LED.
• Commissioners decided to use the current county drop box, which is used by the treasurer and auditor, to also collect donations for the veteran statues in front of the courthouse. A sign will be made by the statues to direct people to the box if they would like to leave a donation.
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