Chisago County Board briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the Jan. 23 Chisago County Board of Commissioners meeting:

Probation director seeks funding from Legislature

Steve Paquay, the Chisago County probation director, informed the county board, according to a state statute, the state is supposed to reimburse probation officers’ salaries by up to 50 percent. Last year, that rate was at 31 percent. Statewide, Paquay said that left Minnesota’s 55 counties about $3 million short.

“We’ve been left the pain of filling those deficits,” he said.

Paquay noted the last time Chisago County was reimbursed 50 percent of the salaries was 1996.

Paquay added he and other members from the Minnesota Association of County Probation Officers are going to address members of the Legislature at an upcoming legislative hearing in the public safety committee about funding for probation officer salaries.

Commissioner George McMahon asked Paquay how much the reduced state funding affects Chisago County.

“It was $108,000 last year,” he replied.

Board clerk accepts new position

DeAnna Lillienthal, the clerk of the Chisago County Board since 2005, has accepted a new position within the county.

An exact date for her to move into the position has not yet been established, nor has the county identified when it will be looking to hire a new board clerk.

However, Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt did note that when Lillienthal moves into her new position, the board would fill the clerk post on an interim basis—possibly with someone already working for the county or someone who has past experience working with the county—until a permanent replacement is hired.

She will be working in a management position in the county’s Management of Computer and Information Systems department.

Board orders facilities assessment

To address the aging and in some cases crumbling county infrastructure, the board unanimously voted to order a comprehensive facilities assessment.

The price to have a company perform the assessment is $5,750.

“This is a very good way to see what we have to do from another set of eyes,” commissioner George McMahon said.

Messelt said the county has about $1.2 million in its capital improvement projects fund to use for needed facilities upgrades.

“We won’t use all of that for (the county government center) building, we hope,” he said.

He noted the board has to decide what to do about the government center’s 26-year-old chillers, the roof, parking lot improvements, lighting improvements and old air handling units.

Commissioner Mike Robinson noted construction projects usually end up “costing more” than the quoted price, and asked if the county had the funds to cover a cost overrun.

Messelt said the county does have the money in reserves to cover unforeseen expenditures related to building repairs.

He added the county would likely phase in construction over the course of several years.

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