8/28/2014 4:25:00 PM Preliminary county levy agreed upon 3-2
Along with the action on the 2015 levy, the county commissioners also: ~ Approved a Conditional Use Permit for the Apple Festival in the Rural Retail and Tourism land use category. This brings the 20-year old Amador Heritage Center and Apple Festival event into compliance with code. The Apple Festival is held the third Sunday in September. The applicant for the permit was Amador Township. As a township supervisor a County Planning Commission member, Lin Strong, excused herself from voting on the agenda item. Chisago County Director of Environmental Services Kurt Jensen Schneider said there’s various inquiries at times about community events that have taken hold over the years, and why they haven’t been reviewed by regulators and the planning commission. This permit just puts conditions on activities and operations and makes sure everybody knows what’s expected for a highly popular event, he added. ~ An aquatics invasives specialist is being added using state funding approved by the legislature, to combat the spread of non-native plants and species. Chisago County is getting nearly $63,000 this year to expand inspection and public education staff hours at water access points. This is in addition to what Lake Improvement District budgets already support. The state funding goes to every county and is allocated based on numbers of accesses and parking spots. Chisago county gets another $140,000 for 2015 to add two inspectors for 23 weeks. Schneider cautioned that if the legislature ever pulls funding for this program, the specialist hours go away. ~ The board okayed contracting with the city of Harris for building and nuisance code services. Small cities sometimes need help tackling issues, Schneider explained, and the hourly contract will kick-in whenever Harris calls upon county staff to step in. ~ An issue from 1999 is just now being resolved. There should have been a ballot presented to employees in the corrections officer plan when the retirement system was newly-established for this group. An order from the Social Security Administration concerning a shift of employees from one to another plan, in the state retirement program PERA, calls for a secret vote by all corrections personnel. They are being asked if they support their contribution that is allowing them to claim Social Security. If employees vote to stay with the system as is, there’s no budget impact. If there’s a change, the county could be in the position of contributing the 6.2 percent witholding into Social Security instead of the employees. The vote is taking place in December. Chisago County supports the “majority” vote. All 87 counties are being asked if they want a majority or “divided” (individual) plan outcome. Whichever 51 percent of counties prefer to see hapen is the way the state retirement regulators will proceed.