County dips into reserve funds for road projects

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2003

The Freeborn County Board unanimously approved the highway department’s plant to proceed with $3.4 million in improvement projects on six roads. Two of those projects are not funded by the state, and the county will use its reserve funds.

Roads under county control are classified into two types: county-state-aid highways, which the state pours money into, and county roads, of which county tax-levy money is the primary funding source.

For the two projects, County Road 84 and 92, the department estimates it will spend about $300,000. In the 2003 budget plan, this expenditure is appropriated by cutting into the reserve fund.

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The county spent $500,000 from the reserves last year. Commissioner Dan Belshan, who is also a vice chairman of a special budget committee, has been expressing his concern about dipping into the reserve. The committee is expected to assemble its recommendations for next year’s budget on Thursday.

Highway Department Director Sue Miller said the projects were on hold in recent years.

The Country Road 84 project, in particular, is very important because the road is the extension of Hammer Road that would be a main route to connect the new Wal-Mart Supercenter on the east edge of the city with Northbridge Mall, Miller said.

Miller indicated that in the long run, the county would consider transferring the jurisdiction of County Road 84 to the City of Albert Lea. The city is able to reclassify the road to a type that can get state money. Miller said state aid to the roads in the county as a whole would increase in that way.

In other county business:

&045; The board authorized the environmental services department to permit L & P Services for operating a waste-collection service.

&045; The board set a hearing on the viewer’s report for redetermining the benefits of County Ditch 43 on April 15, and set another hearing date for a County Ditch J-5 repair and improvement project on May 6.

&045; County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen announced he would attend a conference with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other state officials about government efficiency and effectiveness.