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County Board Meeting September 5 2023

Posted: 09/05/2023

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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Private vacation home rental properties will now pay a different fee structure to Horizon Public Health and Douglas County will consider a new ordinance to help fund the services provided by Pope Douglas Solid Waste. These were two votes among many taken during the board meeting held Tuesday, September 5.

Jessica Peterson, Horizon Public Health supervisor for the Food, Pools, and Lodging Program, asked commissioners to approve an increase in the base fee charged to food and lodging establishments, places with public swimming pools, and mobile home park and recreational camping areas for services provided by the county’s two sanitarians. The annual fee will increase from $250.00 to $275.00 in 2024. The fee change does not include private vacation rental homes. Peterson presented a new fee structure for those homes as follows: 2 bedrooms or less $300, 3 bedrooms $400, 4 bedrooms or more $500.  The commissioners approved the fee changes and increase. Horizon Public Health’s environmental health unit is responsible for licensing designated food and beverage providers as well as lodging, pool, mobile home parks, recreational camping, and youth-camp establishments in Douglas County.

Land and Resource Management

Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush and Steve Vrchota, Executive Director at Pope Douglas Solid Waste, asked for and received permission to look into the creation of a county ordinance that would require garbage haulers to collect a service fee from their customers that would then be used to defray increased operating costs at the Pope Douglas Solid Waste facility. Rush and Vrchota explained an 8 percent hauler-collected service fee would generate approximately the same revenue as a $25 increase in the current parcel fee imposed on property owners. They shared the number of reasons costs are going up which include hyperinflation in 2021 and 2022, depreciated assets that need replacing, wage and insurance increases, and an inability to raise the tipping fee beyond the maximum 4 percent until 2031.

 Commissioners shared concerns about raising the cost of garbage service too much and how this fee would impact haulers who would be required to do the bookwork necessary to collect it and pass it on to Pope Douglas Solid Waste. Rush assured the commissioners there will be plenty of opportunities for input because creating and implementing a new ordinance is a long and public process.


Auditor Treasurer Vicki Doehling explained the new Voting Operations, Technology, and Election Resources (VOTER) account. Douglas County will receive approximately $10,400.00 dollars each year. Twenty-five percent of that will be allocated directly to cities and townships based on their percentage of registered voters. Doehling explained that an agreement needs to be reached with each local city and township. She asked for and was given permission to sign those agreements as they are reached. The funds may be used for equipment, hardware or software, cybersecurity, security-related infrastructure, capital improvements to improve access to polling places for individuals with disabilities, staff costs and other costs related to elections.


The county board approved a contract between the township of Holmes City and the assessor’s office. The county will assess all real and personal property in the township for tax purposes. The township will pay $8 per parcel in 2024 and 2025 and $8.25 per parcel in 2026 and 2027.

Sheriff’s Office

The board approved the 2023/2024 contract for DWI enforcement. That $130,977.00 grant is administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said the money from the grant has created a very successful program in the county. He told commissioners the deputy assigned through this grant made 103 arrests for impaired driving in 2022 and so far in 2023 has made 65 arrests. Sheriff Wolbersen said 80 percent of the impaired driving arrests involved drugs. He added they do still see plenty of drivers impaired just by alcohol as well.

The sheriff also asked the board to accept the largest donation the office has received in his memory. It’s from the estate of Joan Marie Olson and the amount is $50,683.82 to be used at the sheriff’s discretion. The commissioners and Sheriff Wolbersen agreed the donation was very generous and very much appreciated.


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