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Goodhue County Board briefs: Wait-and-see approach to leasing of squad cars

Commissioners takes wait-and-see approach to leasing of squad cars

On Tuesday, June 5, Goodhue County considered a vendor contract to manage the purchase and sale of patrol unit vehicles. This program would mean that, rather than purchasing patrol units outright and driving them until they can no longer run, vehicles would be leased to the county and sold by a vendor after three years, while they still have some value. All other vehicles would continue to be purchased outright by the county.

During Committee of the Whole, a representative from Enterprise Fleet Management, the commercial arm of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, showcased the potential cost savings for the county: about $255,000 over four years. County staff said another vendor has contacted them with a similar proposal.

The Goodhue County Board decided to see how the Enterprise Fleet relationship pans out for other counties — Hope, Clay, Asanti and Chisago, to name a few — engaged in the program to see if it would be a good fit for Goodhue County. Commissioner Brad Anderson was the most vocal opponent, stating that "Once you get on the lease path you do not get out of it, you'll never have the dollars to get back those assets you sent away. It's a different animal."

One solar garden stagnates, another receives CUP

The Goodhue County Board will take no action to invest in solar power at the present time. The board was divided on whether the investment is worthwhile. Commissioner Paul Drotos defended the practice and cited Red Wing's 19 solar gardens. which are in use or in production as a reason to move forward.

"Every time the sun shines, you're making money," Drotos said.

Commissioner Barney Nesseth questioned the process to decommission solar panels and whether the silicon content of panels was a waste hazard.

"Focus on roads and bridges, then we'll talk about solar panels," Goodhue County Board Chair Jason Majerus said.

The board agreed to hear more on this topic from Red Wing representatives and look at more firm numbers to assess the overall value of a solar garden subscription for the county.

Later in the agenda, commissioners unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for a utility scale solar energy system for Nokomis Hiawatha LLC. The system will occupy five acres in Cannon Falls where owner Douglas Stegemann currently grow corn and soybeans.

The Byllesby Solar Garden, as it is known, will connect to Xcel Energy's solar grid. Over the course of its 25-year lifetime, the solar garden is projected to generate 1.8 million kWh of energy each year.

This project will be developed in conjunction with the Minnesota Solar Garden program and Xcel Energy's Solar Rewards Community Program.

— compiled by Sarah Hansen, staff writer