Commissioners consider state wildlife acquisition

NEW ULM-Brown County commissioners will consider Tuesday a proposed 85.23 acre land acquisition to the Vogel Wildlife Management Area in Section 3, Stately Township, for inclusion into the state’s Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposed a $4,417.50 annual Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for five years, based on 3/4 of one percent of the property’s appraised value. After five years, the county could re-determine what the annual payment would be, according to the Request for Board Action (RBA).

Commissioners will also consider:

Withdrawing from the State Department of Human Services (DHS) Chemical Dependency pilot project.

In the fall of 2013, Brown County was invited to join a chemical dependency pilot project to begin Jan. 1, 2014, but was later delayed to July 1, 2014, according to the RBA.

From the start, there was skepticism by Court Services and the Brown County Judge, Family Services Director Tom Henderson and his staff as to whether the project was right for Brown County to be in, according to the RBA.

“We’ve attended many meetings over the past nine months, asking the state department to make exceptions so that Brown County Probation and Family Services could continue to do assessments in addition to case management and be reimbursed for those under the project,” Henderson wrote in the RBA.

“At first, there looked like there were possibilities for that and many inquiries and discussions were held in the DHS licensing department,” Henderson added. “A week ago, decisions were made in the department that we could not do that, leaving the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) the only place in the county where reimbursable assessments could be obtained for Chemical Dependency (CD) services. In the past, 60 percent of assessments led to placements for treatment other than NUMC. It didn’t seem like we were leaving the clientele needing the service in Brown County with a clear choice to tell them could only get assessed at the local provider.”

Henderson explained that his department made “valiant” attempts to help DHS understand that rural Minnesota has very few vendors/providers and that counties need to fill that void. “There are many other counties with no vendors and if this becomes statewide after the three pilots are done in two years, people would have long distances to travel to the only vendor near them…We have one provider but they are not the choice of all people seeking treatment and they don’t have some services that certain clientele need for treatment.”

Increasing an Assessor’s Office part-time assessment technician’s hours from 1,560 to 1,730 in 2015, increasing salary by $2,833, subject to final budget approval. The two assessment technician’s workload keeps increasing with each additional program approved by the Legislature, making it hard to keep up with applications and correspondence, according to the RBA.

Adding a part-time sheriff’s secretary at 20 hours/week, starting as soon as possible. Estimated pay for the job is at the Grade VIII rate, $13,724 entry to $16,090 midpoint, according to the RBA.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 1, 2014 in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

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

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