Chatfield Advisors Inspect New Fire Brigade Truck
Councilors came out at their May 24 Chatfield City Council meeting to inspect the fire department’s new brush truck. Purchase of the F-550 chassis was approved in November 2020 ($ 43,059) and the cost of labor and equipment installation ($ 86,008) was approved on December 14. The total cost of the unit which is equipped to fight the bushfires was approximately $ 130,000.
After the meeting continued in the council chamber, Mayor Russ Smith presented the poster celebrating the May 2021 month of preservation. The poster featured “The Legacy of the Chatfield Prairie School”. Chatfield Public Library was built in 1914 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This year’s Heritage Preservation Award went to St. Mary’s Church, Chatfield. The church has renovated its organ and has exercised good management of the 90-year-old building.
Fillmore County Prison needs study
Sheriff John DeGeorge and County Commissioner Mitch Lentz continued their fact-finding tour of city councils and organizations. The intention is to fully inform the public and to obtain their opinion. DeGeorge stressed that this is a data-driven process to determine a prison’s needs now and in the future and to determine the most fiscally responsible solution.
Through this process and with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), the county is avoiding a screeching jail term. The DOC downgraded the Fillmore County Jail to a 90-day institution in 2017. The jail was built in 1969 under 1911 rules. It is possibly the oldest jail in the state and should have been last about 30 years; it has been around for 52 years now. The prison is inspected every year and has several shortcomings. It will not be allowed to continue to function, as is, indefinitely. If the DOC doesn’t see the county working to resolve the issues, it could issue a shutdown order to shut down the facility.
DeGeorge explained that the size of the prison is not the issue, but rather the design of the prison and the lack of space for programs and exercises. The National Institute of Corrections conducted a study to determine the prison’s needs in 2017 and found it to be non-compliant and inadequate in several areas. DOC has determined that corrective actions will require substantial remodeling or new construction.
Four options for the future are under consideration. In the next month, the committee will make a recommendation to Fillmore County Council. Options include full outsourcing and jail shutdown, 72 hour short term reservation and holding facility, 90 day facility, or 365 day facility. The first two options will require hiring more staff and purchasing more equipment and vehicles to transport detainees to other facilities and appear in court. The 90-day and 365-day options will have similar DOC requirements.
The recommendation to the county council will be based on the county’s future operating data and costs.
It has been noted that funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 can be used for the renovation or new construction of a prison. Fillmore County will receive $ 4.8 million.
Lentz said the county has the property and location to build a prison; “We have to do something.” Lentz also said the county’s current bond will be paid off in about a year and a half.
DeGeorge explained that you are not forecasting the average number of inmates, but the maximum number. The number of inmates on average is now much lower than during the boom in meth labs over 10 years ago. The highest numbers were around 2010. He said there was no reason to believe the prison population will increase.
Other questions at a glance
• State Senator Carla Nelson, President of Taxation, stopped by to answer all questions about taxes. The legislature adjourned May 17 with agreement on a budget bill ($ 52 billion state budget for the next two years). There will be no tax increase and there will be tax relief for Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans and additional unemployment benefits from the federal government or Unemployment Insurance in the event. pandemic (PUI). An extraordinary session is expected to take place in mid-June to follow up on the agreed points and pass the budget bill.
Nelson said the Revenue Department will determine how to get this tax break for employees and employers. Changes to the tax laws to exempt PPPs and PUIs from taxation will be on the Minnesota DOR website: revenue.State.mn.us/tax-law-changes.
Councilor Mike Urban asked about electronic zippers. Nelson noted that some people were trying to get them reclassified as slots. She said she didn’t support it. Charitable gaming organizations do a great job for our communities.
• The appointment of Julie Quinn to the Charter Commission was approved. Ann Halloran’s appointment to the library board was approved. Mayor Smith thanked them for their willingness to serve.
• Payment of $ 21,930.85 to Wm was approved. Hanson Waste Removal & Recycling for Chatfield Cleanup, May 3-7. Nearly 84 tonnes of waste were removed, including 61 mattresses.
• There have been several complaints about harmful property. Smith discussed the city code regarding public nuisance. When a public nuisance is identified and the owner is notified, the owner has the option to comply. Most will comply. When this least resistance method is exhausted, enforcement is the next step in the process. Smith said we are serving the public, which includes the owner of a harmful property. There is an application process that does not get quick results. Legal action takes time.