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Co. Board approves accepting refugee resettlement

NEW ULM — After a brief discussion Tuesday, Brown County Commissioners unanimously approved continuing the existing practice of allowing refugee resettlement in Brown County.

Action came on a motion by Commissioner Scott Windschitl, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg to continue to allow refugee resettlement. The resolution followed a number of people voicing support for the measure. Nobody voiced opposition to it.

On Sept. 26, President Trump issued an executive order requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government before refugees can be resettled in their jurisdictions.

Up to this point, written consent was not needed for resettlement. Refugees have always been allowed in Brown County. In the last five years,however, no refugees have resettled here.

Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home countries due to violence or persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. They are unable to return home because their home governments are unable or unwilling to protect them.

Brown County Human Services Director Barb Dietz said refugees have already undergone extensive screening and vetting and federal funds are available for their first eight months of resettlement.

“These are not people sliding out a door in the middle of the night,” said Commissioner Windschitl.

“We need more employees in Minnesota. Most of these people want to integrate and work,” said Commissioner Dean Simonsen. “These is a lot of misinformation out there.”

Commissioner Berg said he opposed illegal immigration but that refugees are put through “quite a process. We know who is coming through.”

New Ulm Diocese Deacon Tim Dolan said three refugees have come through Catholic Charities program and resettled in Lyon and Kandiyohi County in the diocese.

“They’re people wanting to join their family due to war or violence. The vetting process takes about three years,” Dolan said.

Susan Kimmel of New Ulm Forward said the organization seeks to create friendship, a welcoming atmos-

phere and includes listening to newcomer’s stories. She also belongs to Welcoming Communities, a group of area cities including New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, St. Peter and St. James that meets with community leaders.

Commissioners also unanimously approved:

• A right-of-entry agreement between Brown County as holder in trust, with the Brown-Lyon-Redwood-Renville County Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to use tax forfeited property at 101 German St. N. (former Marktplatz Mall) for ERU search and entry training exercises, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Windschitl.

• Assessment adjustments on Judicial Ditch (JD) 25 R (Redwood) &B (Brown) from $4,000 to $2,000 and on JD 38 R&B from $8,000 to $1,000, motion by Commissioner Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Berg.

An expenditure review showed all redetermination of benefit (ROB) billing were paid by Brown County but would be reimbursed by Redwood County in year-end balancing. Brown County Auditor-Treasurer (AT) Jean Prochniak’s office contacted affected landowners to apologize for the oversight and that it would be revised.

• Replacing the Center & Payne St. (CSAH 13) traffic light during the 2020 mill and overlay project with ADA (American Disabilities Act) improvements, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Windschitl.

• Adding lights and gates for the CSAH 8 railroad crossing signal update west of Sleepy Eye, with federal safety funds paying 90% of the $234,124.85 cost, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Simonsen. The county’s $23,412.48 cost is eligible for state aid funds.

• Adding lights and gates for the CSAH 11 railroad crossing signal upgrade in Essig with federal safety funds paying 90% of the $238,307.42 cost, motion by Commissioner Windschitl, seconded by Commissioner Berg. The county’s $23,830.74 cost is eligible for state aid funds.

• Raising county commissioner salaries 2% for 2020, from $25,668 to $26,181. An additional $1,000 for the board chair and $75 daily per diem stay the same, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert. The 2019 mean, salary in a 15-county comparison group is $25,820.

• Raising the 2020 county highway engineer salary 2.75%, from $118,768 to $122,000, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Veerkamp.

• Raising the 2020 county human services director salary 2%, from $110,000 to $112,200, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

• Raising the 2020 county probation director salary 4%, from $110,882 to $115,317, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

• Raising the 2020 county sheriff’s salary 7%, from $98,100 to $104,967, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

• Raising the 2020 county recorder’s salary 3% from $79,082 to $81,454, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

• Raising the 2020 county auditor/treasurer salary 5.82%, from $94,500 to $100,000, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert. Commissioner Windschitl cast a dissenting vote.

• Raising the 2020 county attorney’s salary 4.35%, from $115,000 to $120,000, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

• Raising the 2020 county administrator’s salary 5.06% from $112,365 to $118,052, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Borchert.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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