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Goodhue County Board cancels budget meeting, delays drug court conversation

Budget meeting canceled; drug court conversation delayed

Despite having already circulated public meeting notice, the Goodhue County Board voted to cancel an afternoon budget meeting on April 17. Board Chair Jason Majerus introduced the topic, stating that he believed the meeting would be a waste of time for board members and county staff. Rather than discuss budgeting with staff, he said that the board should come up with a list of guidelines and ask staff to come up with a plan. Allen questioned whether Majerus values long-range planning and Commissioner Brad Anderson added, "In my mind I'm here for the long haul. We need to be thinking five years out when we're talking about capital planning."

The board launched into a lengthy on-the-spot discussion about the preferred tax levy values and how to maintain, lower or increase levies to accommodate future planning without making any decisions.

County Administrator Scott Arneson said that the 2019 property tax levies have been set and shared with residents. Without an afternoon budget meeting to attend, where he had planned to address drug court funding and future planning, Paul Drotos asked to share some of his thoughts about the drug court at the next board meeting.

Board endorses legislation for Prairie Island nuclear plant

Goodhue County commissioners approved a motion Tuesday, April 17, to support House File 3708/Senate File 3504, which would allow Xcel Energy to recover costs associated with improvements at the Prairie Island nuclear plant. This legislation has the support of state Sen. Mike Goggin and Rep. Barb Haley.

Commissioner Paul Drotos, a former Xcel employee, added, "I believe the nuclear plant is addressing (clean energy needs for the state) and I support the plant as well as its employees and clean record that you have so far."

Cannon, Zumbrota tax-abatement requests approved

During the County Board's regular meeting on May 1, a public hearing will be held to address tax abatement applications for Zumbrota Veterinary Properties, Zumbrota Sales and Cannon River Winery.

The board will subsequently vote on these applications. Commissioners Ron Allen said Tuesday that will be absent for this meeting, but the remaining board members indicated that they do not anticipate a split vote.

Board backs site for Cannon Falls workforce housing

Goodhue County Board has approved the purchase and development of land in Cannon Falls for the purpose of workforce housing. This plan is contingent on a finalized property sale to SEMMCRA.

Ultimately, this plan will entail a $100,000 soil correction project for the property and lead to the development of roughly 36 market-rate units to accommodate both elderly and workforce housing needs in Cannon Falls, commissioners were told Tuesday. The development aims to include some element of solar energy use.

If the request for proposal fails to attract a developer, work will fall to the housing authority.

"This property hasn't done anything for 14 years," County Administrator Scott Arneson said. "This is a good opportunity to do something with it."

The parcels involved in this project are: 524560090, 0070, 0060, 0050, 0040, 0030, 0020, 0010, 524550010, 0020, 0030, 0040, 0050, 0060, 0070, 0080, 0090, 0100, 0110, 0120 and 524560080.

Public to vote on auto parts tax

Goodhue County commissioners endorsed a placing an amendment question on Minnesota's November ballot regarding auto part sales tax be implemented. If voters agree, funds would be dedicated to the Highway User's Distribution Fund.

"Low-income people need more auto parts," Drotos said. "In my opinion, this is a very regressive tax as far as income; this may not be the best way to make policy, have an amendment on the constitution, and yet we're desperate to fix our roads."

Board members noted that, even though gas tax is beneficial because it draws in money from outside the state as is dedicated to roads, the state can lower the tax. What this amendment would do is make sure that money collected from parts will go to a set purpose of fixing roads.

Goodhue wedding facility approved

The board unanimously approved permits for a bed-and-breakfast and wedding facility at 39744 Highway 58 Blvd, Goodhue.

Owner Roger Kittleson said the farmhouse and barn will receive a new septic system and the new facility will begin operations in June.

— compiled by Sarah Hansen, staff writer