Fees haven’t deterred STS useGoodhue County’s Sentence to Service crews are being widely used throughout the county, even after the implementation of a user fee that commissioners approved in 2011.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County’s Sentence to Service crews are being widely used throughout the county, even after the implementation of a user fee that commissioners approved in 2011.
At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, administrative assistant Stacy Thuman told the County Board she asked area entities how they felt about the cost and quality of STS services.
“The city of Cannon Falls is the only one I heard back from and they said they feel that the rates are fair,” Thuman explained, adding city officials are pleased with the level of service as well.
“I think if they’re not writing us, they’re probably all right with it,” Commissioner Ron Allen noted about the remainder of the users.
Goodhue County’s user fee affects entities with levy authority, such as cities, townships and school districts. Those entities can purchase the time of an STS crew at $200 per day or $100 per half day.
“What it pretty much comes down to is we’re billing for $25 an hour,” Thuman said.
In 2011, Goodhue County received $16,575 worth of revenue from entities using the STS program. This year the county has received about $25,800 to date, and anticipates collecting nearly $32,000 for all of 2012.
The user fee was initially implemented in January 2011 as a result of the state of Minnesota increasing Goodhue County’s contract rate by 25 percent just six months earlier. In addition to developing a user fee, the county also increased the city of Red Wing’s contract rate by 25 percent in 2011.
Still, higher costs have not deterred anyone from taking advantage of the services that STS provides.
“The city of Red Wing has purchased 10 additional days outside of their contract,” Thuman said.
Also, STS crew leader John Lance said the crews are busier than ever.
“It just shows that the program is very well accepted, appreciated and needed throughout Goodhue County,” Commissioner Jim Bryant said.
Some of the entities that have used STS crews this year are the cities of Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Lake City, Pine Island, Red Wing and Kenyon, and the townships of Belvidere, Vasa, Wacouta and Florence.
Since January, the crews have done work for the county on 115 days, the city of Cannon Falls on about 34 days, Red Wing schools on about 13 days and the Goodhue County Fair on about 10 days.
“It’s a great program and I have never heard one complaint about any of their work,” Chair Richard Samuelson said. “They do things that probably wouldn’t get done otherwise.”