Property and Public Services Director Janel Timm provided an update to the Board on the potential creation of a new Joint Powers Entity (JPE) to take over the software maintenance services currently provided by Computer Professionals Unlimited, Inc. Over the past month, new five-year service contracts have been negotiated between Computer Professionals and the Mid-State Computer Collaborative (MSCC) a 29-county cooperative created in the 1980s to collectively negotiate software contracts for county governments in southwest Minnesota.

Timm said that because the owner of Computer Professionals is looking to sell his business, it was in the best interests of the counties using the software to explore potentially purchasing the company. Yellow Medicine would create a JPE with other interested counties and then negotiate a sale directly with the current owner of Computer Professionals. This will avoid any interruption in service or painful contract re-negotiation with any future owner.

Commissioners seemed generally supportive of the plan, though Commissioner Gary Johnson said he didn’t want the new JPE to become “a big monster.” Board Chair Ron Antony did not share those fears, explaining that “the more partners we can get into this, the cheaper it will be.” County Administrator Peg Heglund agreed, adding that “there are ways of creating a Joint Powers Entity that is efficient.”

Commissioner Antony also expressed his fear if somebody else bought out Computer Professionals, saying that there is “no guarantee on rates,” and adding, “that’s the biggest unknown.” However, Johnson still seemed hesitant, joking that, “I’m the guy who [accidentally] deleted all my emails. I’d like to know more about this.”

Heglund assured commissioners that Timm’s request was simply to explore the option further. After some additional discussion, the Board eventually voted unanimously to give Timm the authority to explore the creation of a JPE and potential purchase. Commissioner John Berends lauded the vote, saying hopefully that it “will give us the ability to save some money down the road.” The Board also gave permission for Finance Manager Lacey Rigge to work with Timm during the exploratory period.

In other news:

The Board also debated a request from the Granite Falls Economic Development Authority (EDA) to explore potentially selling the county-owned parking lot across the street from the Government Center in Granite Falls. The EDA hopes to use the parking lot to accommodate new residential housing. Commissioner Johnson voiced his strong opposition to exploring the issue further, saying that he didn’t want to sell the parking lot.

Board Chair Ron Antony urged commissioners not to arrive at a hasty decision, saying, “I’d at least like to hear them [the Granite Falls EDA] out.” Antony, while not saying whether or not he supported a final sale, highlighted the potential economic benefit of selling the parking space. Commissioner John Berends agreed, adding that “we are shutting it down before we even hear it.” The Board eventually rejected the EDA’s request, with only Commissioner Antony and Berends voting to explore the proposal further.

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners had a busy agenda during their Tuesday, May 22 meeting. Staff changes were approved by the Board, contracts were debated and signed, and future projects were discussed.

The Board approved and agreement with Swift County to share highway engineer services. Under the new contract, The Swift County Highway Engineer (who will remain a Swift County employee) will provide assistance and technical advice to Yellow Medicine. Other services include developing engineering plans, estimating project costs, approving relevant documents, inspect problems, and more.

An annual maintenance agreement with Information Systems Corporation (ISC Imaging) was also approved by the Board. The County agreed to pay $20,534 in exchange for maintenance support for the document imaging program used by several county employees.

The Board approved Conditional Use Request (CUR) for Dave Schwerin to build a 54-foot by 65-foot office building for business use. The land is located in Posen Township.

The County also experienced several staff changes. The Board accepted the resignations of Correctional Officer/Dispatcher Janelle Kompelien and Social Worker Jessie Stoufer-Mertens, in addition to approving replacements for their positions.

Several new county employees were also formally hired by the Board. Mark Gruenes and Becky Trapp were both hired as assistant county attorneys. They were both hired as grade 23, step 11 employees. Gruenes will begin work on October 1, and Trapp will begin on June 4.

The Board approved a fireworks permit for a pyrotechnical display at Prairie’s Edge Casino for July 3, 2018. The permit fee was $100 and is held by Pyrotechnic Display, Inc.