Board OKs 4-H Landfall policing reports

WashCo_logoAt least one Washington County commissioner wants the County Board to consider permanently fund the 4-H program out of its budget instead of using contingency funds.

District 4 Commissioner Autumn Lehrke wants the county to pay its $50,000 portion of 4-H funding as a permanent part of the 2014 budget instead of from contingency money.

Lehrke’s comments came during discussion of the county’s agreement with the University of Minnesota Extension Service for 4-H programs and staffing. Department of Public Health and Environment Director Lowell Johnson said the one-year agreement has the county paying $50,000 of the program’s $180,000 operating budget. The remaining money comes from grants and fundraising, he added.

County Extension Committee Chairman Dan Dolan of Woodbury told commissioners that several local foundations support the 4-H program. Johnson added that the annual 4-H “Clover Gala” fundraiser is Feb. 23 at the Lowell Inn in Stillwater.

Johnson said two county school districts — Independent School District 834 and South Washington ISD 833 — participate in 4-H programs that include the organization’s “Youth Teaching Youth” mentoring program.

Dolan said his committee is talking with Tartan High School officials about expanding 4-H to the Oakdale high school.

Commissioners also approved a three-year contract to have the Washington County Sheriff’s Office provide law enforcement beginning March 1 in Landfall. Sheriff Bill Hutton said the contract calls for the city to pay almost $117,000 in direct costs and expenses.

WCSO deputies replace the Maplewood Police Department, which patroled Lanfall for almost 20 years. Sheriff’s deputies currently patrol 13 cities in the county, according to Hutton.

The sheriff also said his office plans to combine its Lake Elmo and Landfall patrols, although each city maintains its separate agreements with the WCSO.

“The city of Landfall is in partnership with Lake Elmo. We see it as a win-win-win. It’s a win for each city and a win for us for the services we provide,” Hutton said.

n Accepting about $7,000 in contributions and gifts to the county during the fourth quarter of 2012. County policy allows department heads to accept up to $1,000 in donations to the county, with those gifts accepted on the county’s behalf by commissioners quarterly.

Deputy County Administrator Kevin Corbid said the majority of the fourth quarter donations went to the Parks Department as part of the Victorian Christmas at the Historic Courthouse.

n Agreed to hold an executive session to discuss using Land and Water Legacy Funds to help the city of Woodbury buy an 30-acre site on La Lake in the southwest part of that city.

The site is home to a closed kennel and includes 14 acres of La Lake shoreline. Woodbury would add the site to its open space and improve the public’s ability to use La Lake and connect the city’s trails to trails in nearby Newport. A Woodbury city official told commissioners the kennel buildings would be demolished.

That official said the land has a $468,000 assessment value and is worth about $800,000 on the open market. She added the site is zoned R2 for single family homes on a minimum three-acre lot, meaning five or fewer homes could be built if the land was sold for development.

n Agreeing to support legislation by the city of Oakdale to allow more time to establish a Tanner’s Lake tax increment financing district, extend the duration of the Bergen Plaza TIF district through 2030 and allow Echo Ridge TIF district revenue to be used to fund activities at the Tartan Crossing and Tanner’s Lake sites.

The Bergen Plaza TIF district involves demolition and redevelopment of the old Oakdale Mall site on 10th Avenue. The Tanner’s Lake TIF district involves demolition of two homes and development of 60 units of housing and retail.

Oakdale Community Development Director Bob Streeter said county support of the TIF requests was needed to get lawmakers to support the city’s legislation.

“With county support, they look very favorably on the bill,” Streeter said. “Without county support, not so much.”

Although commissioners agreed to support Oakdale’s request, they also planned a workshop next month to discuss how TIF districts impact economic development and county taxes.