The Washington County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Regional Railroad Authority June 1, elected its leadership for 2021, electing Commissioner Wayne Johnson as chair and Commissioner Stan …
The Washington County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Regional Railroad Authority June 1, elected its leadership for 2021, electing Commissioner Wayne Johnson as chair and Commissioner Stan Karwoski as vice chair.
The authority also approved a budget amendment to a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates to add $13,000 to increase the scope of the study that the company is doing on the Highway 36 Corridor Transit Feasibility Study.
The Highway 36 Corridor Transit Feasibility study is exploring transit opportunities in the highway’s corridor through analysis of existing and emerging mobility needs within the corridor. The Washington County Regional Railroad Authority approved the initial budget amendment and study contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates in March 2020. The study scope expanded beyond the initial key tasks to support public engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic and add a fourth transit scenario and the related analysis.
County will receive funds to help decrease auto theft Washington County will receive $116,200 in an auto theft prevention grant after the County Board accepted the grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce June 1.
The money will be used over the next two years.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office has been receiving this specific grant since 2005. The grant amount fluctuates each grant cycle.
County Attorney’s Office to receive reimbursement for prosecuting prison inmates The Washington County Attorney’s Office will be reimbursed for the cost of prosecuting inmates in the Stillwater and Oak Park Heights correctional facilities who are involved in criminal activity.
The County Board approved an agreement with the state Department of Corrections, Facilities Division, June 1 to receive the funds. The agreement goes through June 30, 2022.
The state reimburses the expenses of the county attorney resulting from activities involving inmates of state correctional institutions in the county.
County Board conducts public hearing on county development code to coordinate membership between citizen advisory groups The Washington County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing June 1 to consider amendments to the Washington County Development Code to enable coordination of membership between the Planning Advisory Commission (PAC) and the Board of Adjustment and Appeals (BAA) as recommended by the Planning Advisory Commission.
In 2018, a significant amount of land use authority was assumed by townships, resulting in a reduction in the volume of work for the PAC and BAA, with less frequent meetings. That created practical challenges for the efficient functioning of the committees and for making effective use of the time of residents’ who serve as members. The County Board has reviewed the potential changes, and set the public hearing to receive public comments on the changes.
To implement the changes, sections of the Washington County Development Code that set out the makeup of the two boards need to be repealed and replaced. The County Board referred the issue to the PAC for its study, report, and recommendation. At its meeting in April, the PAC made a recommendation to the County Board to repeal and replace sections of the Development Code by ordinance.
Under the merger, the county will maintain the two boards, with identical membership, with seven members each. Meetings will be conducted on the same date, one after the other.
After the public hearing, the County Board will consider the input gathered before officially repealing and replacing sections of the code by ordinance. The transition to the new configuration of the PAC and BAA would occur as individual appointments expire or resignations occur, and no current member will be asked to relinquish an appointment.
The board could act as soon as June 15.
County Board conducts public hearing update current Washington County transportation sales tax The Washington County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing June 1 to consider increasing the transportation sales tax to a rate up to 0.5%, and an update to the list of projects eligible to use revenue from this tax.
The hearing remains open for comment until June 15.
The board had previously studied the proposal for nearly a year during 2019, but suspended discussion once the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March 2020.
The tax, generally referred to as the Local Option Sales Tax, is imposed by a state law that allows local governments to levy a sales and use tax of up to .5% and a vehicle excise tax of up to $20 per vehicle. Washington County currently has a .25% sales and use tax, and a $20 vehicle excise tax. Fifty-one other counties in the state have similar taxes. The County Board must conduct a public hearing to raise the tax.
The revenue raised by the tax may be used for roads or bridges, and for both capital and operating costs of transit projects.
Previously, the board reviewed a list of projects that would benefit from the increased sales tax. If the tax were to be increased, it is estimated that it would raise an additional $10 million annually.
With Washington County’s population growth, the county is responsible for expanding highways to meet that growth, and rebuilding interchanges to improve safety for the traveling public.
General road maintenance is also falling behind, and the pavement on county roads is deteriorating more quickly than there are resources to repair it. Other road projects in the county are backlogged.
If the board chooses to move the tax increase ahead, it would make a decision, possibly at its June 15 meeting. The county must report its decision to the state Department of Revenue before the tax may be collected.