New County Assessor
Julie Hackman was sworn in as Count Assessor at the May 3 Board Meeting. The appointment is tentative until it is approved by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. This appointment was necessary because the of retirement of Mark Krupski who was first appointed to fill the county assessor position in 2006. Hackman is currently the Associate Director of Property Records and Licensing. She will work with the Property Records and Licensing (PRL) Director, Mary Blair-Hoeft.
Fentanyl and Methamphetamine
Abuse of Methamphetamine and Fentanyl takes a terrible toll on peoples’ lives. Meth is the number one drug causing human misery and associated crime. Fentanyl (a form of synthetic heroine) is a growing concern and has contributed to the rise deaths attributed to drug overdose. In 2018 the number of drug overdose deaths in the region was 17. In 2019 the number was 18. In 2020 the number jumped to 29. In 2021 the number of overdose deaths reached 47. The number of Meth law enforcement seizures in the SE region illustrates the issue: In 2019, 4.2 pounds of meth was seized. In 2020 the amount increased to 13.66 pounds. In 2021 the amount seized grew to 25.55 pounds. In the first quarter of 2022 the amount seized was 77.62 pounds. It is clear that this problem is not only a law enforcement issue but also a public health issue.
More ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Funds Allotted
The County was awarded about $31 million. In August, 2021, about $19 million was allotted; about $16 million of the first allotment was for housing. At the May 17 meeting, I supported the allotment of $4.8 million for projects including:
- $3,000,000 for groundwater protection
- $500,000 investment toward the Child Care Benefit Cliff project that will help achieve financial independence from county aid
- $420,000 to fix failing sewer systems that serve low-income families in trailer parks
- $565,000 to expand mental health support in schools
- $125,000 for adolescent therapy services provided by Family Services of Rochester
- $232,500 (over two years) for mental health stabilization
Housing for Low-Income Seniors
Olmsted County and HRA (Housing and Redevelopment Authority) are applying for grants for a 36 unit building at the Mayowood site. To qualify for the grant, Olmsted County has donated the land and will use the process of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to contribute to the cost of the building. The PILT amount is about $1,120,000 over a 20-year period. The county and HRA is asking the city of Rochester to assist with the grant process by contributing about $350,000 which is the cost of City permits and fees for the building.
Inaction by the State Legislature Hurt Olmsted County
The 2022 Session of the State Legislature ended without much action. For Olmsted County to progress and provide for public safety we asked for bonding money and an increase in County Program Aid. In the legislation that could have been completed was money for a Materials Recovery Facility, Graham Park upgrades, a new interchange at County Road 44 and Highway 14, money for additional law enforcement officers, funds for the probation system, and funds for County Program Aid that would lower property taxes. The Legislature failed to act so no money will be coming to Olmsted County. It is not known if there will be a special session.
Managing our Environment
Olmsted County is using $3,000,000 of ARPA funds to pilot a project to reduce nitrates. The purpose of the pilot program is to insure that ground water stays healthy by reducing nitrates that leach into the ground water. This project includes encouraging farmers to use cover crops and rotate corn and soybeans crops with small grains.
The General Land Use Policy draft is now receiving public comment. Here is the link for you to review the draft and link to provide public comment: https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/business/building-development-gis/planning-land-use-zoning/general-land-use-plan-update-information?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=