NEW ULM - Brown County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to agree for maintenance and electricity costs for a street light at the intersection of TH 68 and CSAH 29 between Evan and Morgan.
The Minnesota Highway Department (MnDOT) is planning a project on TH 68 between Morgan and CSAH 29 this year, with June bid letting. A street light would be installed in one intersection corner. There would be no associated County construction costs, but annual electrical costs were estimated at $500.
Plans calls for a tall, arching light structure, but a straight pole could be used if the County prefers.
Electricity is needed because no solar-powered light has sufficient power to last an entire night at recommended levels at this time. The intersection was identified for lighting in the County Road Safety Plan.
Lighting improves safety because it identifies that intersection from a distance and aids turning traffic. Only maintenance would be changing a light bulb when it burns out.
Commissioners approved a resolution supporting legislation to seek publication alternatives for local governments, such as using websites, to meet state-mandated requirements.
The Brown County Auditor-Treasurer's Office averages $15,000 a year in publication costs. Brown County expended more than $38,000 in newspaper publications in 2013.
In the 2013 legislative session, a bill was introduced, but not heard in committee, that would allow but not require local governments to use their official websites to publish official notices, proceedings and summaries. Government lobbyists are trying to build support for a similar, new bill.
Brown County Assistant Auditor/Treasurer Jean Prochniak said Brown County has spent lots of money on publication costs in the past and that Gov. Mark Dayton seeks to get rid of old, outdated policies this session.
New Ulm Journal Publisher and Brown County Editorial Association President Bruce Fenske asked commissioners to not support the resolution, which he said has been done by a number of other county boards.
"We feel putting this on a government website won't be read as well as it would be in the thousands of papers we print each day," Fenske said. "By mid-April newspapers will have a website with links to all Minnesota legal notices, which we feel will enhance readership."
Several commissioners said they had mixed feelings about the resolution. Prochniak said her office is considering buying a newspaper advertisement leading readers to its delinquent tax list website listing and offering office copies of the tax list. "We're always looking at ways to cut costs," she said.
Commissioner Richard Seeboth said he liked publishing meeting notices in county newspapers. He said if people could look at newspaper websites, why couldn't they view county websites.
In other action, commissioners unanimously approved:
Authorized ordering a new $96,527.34 International cab and chassis tandem snowplow truck at the state bid price. The trade-in is a 2000 Sterling L8500 single-axle truck.
Freightliner's bid was $98,125.99. Box, hoist, pump, underbody, plow, wing, pre-wet system bids were $102,995 from Towmaster and $106,476.90 from Chrysteel. The Highway Department recommended Towmaster's bid.
Setting 2014 spring road restriction postings that usually begin in late February or March. Work done in 2013 improved the strength of road structure on CSAH 16 (old TH 258) from Comfrey to TH 14 sufficiently to upgrade spring road restriction to 10-ton.
The resolution allowed the Brown County Highway Department to change CSAH 16 north of U.S. Highway 14 to a 9-ton road during spring weight restrictions, if excessive wear is noticed and since the road will be milled this summer.
Hiring Madsen Surveying for 2014 Albin, Stark, Home and North Home re-monumentation Projects for a cost of $80,705. Starting date is March 1; completion date is Feb. 28, 2015. Madsen Surveying would survey field corners before fields are planted or wait until harvest is complete, according to the RBA.
Brown County budgeted $17,000 for the project in 2014. The remaining $63,705 would be paid from the Recorder's Fund.
Purchasing new Planning & Zoning Office permitting software at $39,836 from RTVision, Little Falls. The software would allow the online purchase of zoning, feedlot, Condition Use Permits, variances and other applications without risking county data, files or computer systems.
Spending up to $12,000 for a wellness program budget including up to $2,000 for incentives, speakers, activities; and up to $10,000 for staff time or up to 260 hours a year for Public Health Nurse Melissa Hoffmann.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).