Hearing set for Social Host Ordinance

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners will hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5 before considering adoption of a Social Host Ordinance.

A Social Host Ordinance holds the person who organizes, provides a place, or allows a gathering, where underage alcohol consumption is taking place, criminally responsible regardless of their age or who provided the alcohol.

New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Springfield and Comfrey have enacted a similar ordinance. The same type of ordinance has been adopted by 22 counties and 95 Minnesota cities.

Commissioners will also consider:

A delinquent (2012 unpaid tax) report showing .959 percent unpaid.

The greatest unpaid percentage is in Comfrey (4.57 percent) and Hanska (4.49 percent) remaining at the end of 2012. Those two tax districts were hit especially hard with new market value exclusion tax laws.

The low delinquency rate was attributed to taxpayers who take tax obligations seriously, a direct (deposit) payment program, and other opportunities that make tax payments more user-friendly. The Auditor-Treasurer’s staff also keeps taxpayers aware of unpaid balances.

A resolution asking the the State Legislature to follow an existing law that allows state reimbursement of County Probation Officer and Department of Correction contract counties of 50 percent of previous year expenses for probation officer salaries and benefits.

State appropriations have steadily decreased from 50 percent in 1996 to an all-time low of 31 percent in fiscal year 2012, according to the resolution.

A letter dated from Brown County District 1 Commissioner Richard Seeboth to Gov. Mark Dayton urging the inclusion of the four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center and North Mankato to New Ulm in the Minnesota State Highway Department (MnDOT) 20-year State Highway Investment Plan.

“Far too many people are losing their lives on Highway 14,” Seeboth wrote. “From 2002 to 2011, there were 52 fatalities on the corridor from Rochester to New Ulm. The preliminary tally for 2012 shows another eight fatalities, including a 10-year-old boy on his way home from receiving cancer treatments at the Mayo Clinic.”

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to address funding for Highway 14 and seeking its inclusion in the 20-year plan.

Both bills are authored by Sen. Vicki Jensen (Owatonna) and Rep. Kathy Brynaert (Mankato). The bills are coauthored by all legislators whose districts fall in the Highway 14 corridor.

The county board meeting starts at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5 in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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