On Tuesday, February 26th the Yellow Medicine County Board held their regularly scheduled meeting. The Commissioners started by going over their reports for the last couple of weeks. Multiple meetings were cancelled or delayed due to the weather, similar to the last time the Board met. The commissioners discussed attending a legislators meeting. Newly elected Governor Tim Walz outlined his budget and vision for the state. The commissioners also met with local State Senator Gary Dahms and State Representative Chris Swedzinski, where they were able to discuss issues and ask questions.

Andy Sander from the Highway Department provided an update on 2019 construction projects and other activities. The Board approved annual material quotes for the department, and discussed the possibility of adding lighting along a stretch of Hwy. 212, something that will likely happen soon.

The Board also approved a resolution of support for an agreement to sponsor the City of Wood Lake’s pursuit of 2019 local road improvement program funding from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, for the City Street and County Road Improvement project. The City Street and County Road Improvement project includes 4th Street North (3rd Avenue to Railroad Avenue), Railroad Avenue (4th Street to CSAH 6), CSAH 48 (4th Street to CSAH 6) and CSAH 6 (CSAH 48 to 5th Avenue) within the city of Wood Lake. The improvements would upgrade the roads that are not 10-ton to a 10- ton design capacity. The project will replace the existing county roads after underground utilities have been replaced.

The Local Road Improvement Program administered by MnDOT makes $750,000 available to apply toward projects on local roads that are regionally significant, result in safety improvements and address transportation deficiencies. Sander also discussed the heavy snowfall and effect it has had on road conditions. Sander discussed snow removal, and talked about the long shifts (up to 12 hours) snow plow drivers have been putting in this month.

The Family Services Department gave a report on 2018 child support statistics, talked about how they handle child support obtaining payments, and discussed some major changes made over the last year to the child support system in Minnesota. One of the biggest changes comes in the formula that determines how much a parent would pay in child support. The new law change came into effect in August of last year. Under the previous law that was enacted in 2007, a child support order is calculated based on an "income shares" model. Under that model, both of the parents’ incomes are added together to create a total parental income. The purpose of that is to basically put the children in the same financial situation they would be in had the parents remained together.

Each parent paid a portion of the total child support obligation based on his or her percentage of the combined income. That calculation is based on the following five factors. Parent A’s gross monthly income, Parent B’s gross monthly income, The monthly cost for daycare (if any), the monthly cost for medical and dental insurance coverage, and the amount of parenting time the parents have using a 0%-10%, 10%-45% and 45.1% or more parenting time schedule. This would adjust the child support obligation depending on the amount of parenting time the parties have with the children.

The parenting time schedule factor caused some problems because parents in the 10-45% category could have parenting time every other weekend or they could be on a nearly 50/50 parenting schedule, yet they would pay the same amount in child support while having very different arrangements. This could often lead to contention over one overnight, which could bump a parent into the 45.1-50% category, significantly reducing their support obligation.

That final factor was changed to where child support takes into consideration the exact number of court ordered overnights the parents have with the children on an annual basis vs. the previous three categories spanning wide percentage ranges. Although an “income shares” model is still being used, the new law eliminates the large differences in the parenting expense adjustment categories.

Rather than having the sharp cut offs between people who have parenting time in the three categories previously used, there is a more comprehensive equation that results in a gradual increase or decrease in support depending on parenting time. This will hopefully result in more consistent and fair child support orders. It should also result in less conflict over extra days with children simply for child support sake. Additionally, it is assumed that if a parent has more than 55% parenting time, that parent’s child support obligation will be set at $0. That is a major change from the old model, which required a parent with a majority of parenting time pay child support in certain circumstances.

In other news:

•Finance Director, Lacey Rigge, provided a budget review of 2018, and discussed some financial issues with the Board.

•The Board discussed the upcoming 100-year anniversary of prohibition and some planned celebrations at the Andrew Volstead house.

•The Board approved the annual Meander sponsorship request.

•The Board renewed a contract with Safe Assure.

•The Board approved liquor licenses.