Goodhue County shares concerns with legislatorsAt a luncheon Tuesday afternoon, Goodhue County department heads shared with legislators their concerns on topics that ranged from transportation to finances.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
At a luncheon Tuesday afternoon, Goodhue County department heads shared with legislators their concerns on topics that ranged from transportation to finances.
Sen.-elect Matt Schmit, Rep. Tim Kelly and Rep. Steve Drazkowski all showed up to hear what county officials had to say. Also attending were representatives for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Rep. John Kline.
Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson began Tuesday’s discussion by bringing up transportation funding. In addition to sharing his concerns about finding new methods to pay for roads, Isakson also highlighted issues with Highway 52 and the eventual construction of an interchange at Highway 52 and County Road 9, an intersection that has seen a significant number of fatal crashes.
While county commissioners are prepared to put up the money needed to continue with the design of the interchange, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is moving at a much slower pace.
“We are fully committed to making that a safe intersection,” Commissioner Jim Bryant told legislators on behalf of the County Board.
Commissioner Ron Allen said he thinks the federal government should get more involved because many of the people who get injured or killed at the intersection are from out of state.
Chuck Ackman, who was representing Klobuchar, said he knew Highway 52 would be a hot topic coming into the meeting. It’s one of three roads in southern Minnesota that are a primary concern for the senator, he noted.
“It’s on her radar,” Ackman said.
“We’d like to keep it there,” Isakson replied.
Also at the meeting, County Finance Director Carolyn Holmsten asked for help from legislators to allow private audit companies to perform county audits. The concept has come before the Legislature in the past, but was turned down by Gov. Mark Dayton. Holmsten said she wants to continue to fight the requirement of using the state auditor’s office because it’s much more expensive.
“The bottom line is cost,” she said. “We know we can save.”
Money was also on the mind of County Administrator Scott Arneson.
He told lawmakers he doesn’t like to see the state mandate certain services and then only supply funds for portions of them. Using public defender funding as an example, Arneson said the state often budgets for the first several months of the year and then runs out of money and requires counties to pick up the bill.
“As you’re balancing your budget, don’t balance it on the counties or the cities,” Arneson requested.
Other topics addressed at the meeting included outdated systems in the Health and Human Services Department, the Sheriff’s Office’s driving diversion program, the sharing of electronic geospatial data and the state sales tax.