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County board approves CARES Act spending

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved various expenditures to be paid for out of the county’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding.

Freeborn County Administrator Tom Jensen said out of the county’s $3.72 million, all of the money has been earmarked for purchases throughout the county.

Expenditures approved include the following:

• About $158,000 to reshape offices and increase telecommuting capabilities of the Human Services and Public Health departments in the county.

Jensen said a few rooms are getting remodeled where telecommuting employees can bring in their mobile computers, upload any information to the county system and then take their computers home and continue working from home.

He said this expenditure will likely save the county money in the future as it will decrease the need for office space.

• About $180,000 in grants to 18 nonprofit organizations through the county’s nonprofit COVID-19 relief fund.

Nonprofit agencies that were eligible were those with 20 or less employees that have been affected by or have continued to show financial hardship related to COVID-19 and operate within Freeborn County. The fund gave preference to agencies that provide a direct social service to county residents and those who have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds.

The county had originally allocated $500,000 for the program.

• $26,650 for fiber optic cable upgrades to the Government Center to increase internet capabilities for telecommuting.

• $24,452 for busing costs for Hollandale Christian and St. Theodore Catholic schools.

Jensen said the schools had to pay for busing out of their pockets on Fridays since the Albert Lea school district is only going Mondays through Thursdays, and this funding would go to support those unplanned costs.

• About $90,000 to be used for past due utility payments for applicants who were laid off or who had their financial stream interrupted in the county. This funding is being run through the Human Services department.

Jensen said the county has retained about $1.37 million of the CARES funding for salaries of public safety, administration and public health employees.

In other action, the commissioners:

• Approved a 4% increase in insurance premiums for employees starting Jan. 1. The county will absorb an additional 4% increase.

Jensen said the county insurance has not had an increase for the past three years. For 2021, the increase was anticipated to be 10% but was able to be negotiated down to 8%.

• Reappointed Jaci Keoppen as the Freeborn County assessor for four years.

Keoppen was initially appointed by the board in January after the resignation of Ryan Rasmussen.

• Accepted resignations from Diane Marlin, a child support officer, and Tara Jeno, a mental health therapist, and voted to fill the positions.

• Approved local option disaster tax abatement and credit for property at 90793 115th St. Lyle, which had a fire on May 16. The house was destroyed and unusable for three months, and the abatement equated to $232.