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Commissioners ok contracts, grants

Dec. 1 levy, budget meeting in LEC

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County Commissioners unanimously approved moving the 2021 budget and levy public meeting on Dec. 1 to the Brown County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) Training Room.

Action came on a motion by Commissioner Dean Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg to move the public meeting from the courthouse 3rd floor district courtroom, where it was held in recent years, to the training room in the LEC basement to have more room due to social distancing. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 1. Face masks and social distancing will be required.

Brown County Administrator Sam Hansen said some counties hold such meetings on Zoom or on an another video conference application.

“I like the in-person option and I’m leaning to the LEC training room,” Commissioner Dave Borchert said.

The purpose of the meeting is to explain the 2021 proposed budget and tax levy and hear public feedback on the proposed county budget. It is not a valuation meeting. Those meetings are held in spring.

Market values shown on Truth-In-Taxation notices are final and not a subject for the Dec. 1 hearing.

Proposed property tax statements include taxable market value for taxes payable in 2020 and an estimate of taxes payable in 2021.

Brown County’s 2021 preliminary tax levy was set at a 2.79% increase form 2020. The total budget increase for 2021 is 7.3%.

In 2019, Brown County had the 73rd lowest levy per capita among 87 Minnesota counties.

Significant changes in Brown County’s 2021 budget include a new law enforcement center camera system, new (air conditioning) chillers for the LEC/courthouse, new tools at Lake Hanska Park, a new deputy and a new countywide Microsoft office system.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• The $193,129 2021 MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program Employment Services Contract with the Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), motion by Commissioner Scott Windschitl, seconded by Commissioner Berg.

“Daycare is always an issue, but there are lots of jobs out there. We often get calls from employers asking us to send clients to them,” said MVAC Vocational Advisor Sarah Swantz.

Lay board member Judy Kuster said the Head Start Program has daycare options.

• A $19,367 2021 Child Welfare/Juvenile Justice screening grant, motion by Commissioner Berg, seconded by Commissioner Simonsen.

• Renewing 2021 contracts at a 10% increase for an hourly rate of $13.23/hr. with Enterprise North for cleaning the transition apartment and cleaning county-owned human services vehicles, motion by Commissioner Windschitl, seconded by Commissioner Simonsen. The 2020 contract authorized $12.60/hr. Apartment cleaning costs come from an adult mental health initiative grant.

• Community Resource grant awards of $30,000 to Enterprise North; $20,000 to MRCI; $15,000 to the Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery and $2,500 to the New Ulm American Legion. Commissioners approved up to $75,000 in Community Resource grants Oct. 20.

This is a similar program to what neighboring counties have approved. It supports organizations that help provide housing services, food, childcare programs, employment opportunities, and access to social and health services mitigating the demand on Brown County Social Services and Public Health programs.

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

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