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Watonwan County Board approves resolutions for PACE assessment and Kern Bridge project

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Wednesday morning's Watonwan County Board meeting, the board met with Peter Lindstrom and Michael Linder of the St. Paul Port Authority for a PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy) loan special assessment.

"PACE is a way for businesses, for non-profits, for family housing providers, faith communities, really anybody except residential— that is going to do energy efficiency improvements or utilize removable and paying for it as an assessment on their property tax bill," said Lindstrom. "PACE is a way to pay for these energy efficiency improvements."

So far, PACE has done over 300 projects with $125 million of costs annually, $10 million in annual saving, 500 billion BTUs saved annually, 2,000 jobs created or retained, and 1,300 construction jobs created. PACE shares joint powers with five or six counties that are also Rural Minnesota Energy Board counties.

The process for PACE projects starts with the local government establishing PACE, followed by an application submitted with an energy audit, lender consent, and financials, then loan approval. The project is then completed and the savings pay for assessment through a revolving loan fund.

Those who choose to go with a PACE assessment don't have a payment due until May of the following year, with added advantages for solar power.

Assessments can be used for existing and new construction projects. There is no cost for placing a special assessment.

The total assessment for Watonwan County is $136,440 over ten years, starting in 2021, with the first payment being made in May of 2021. The project is 47kW.

The county approved the joint powers agreement and special assessment resolutions following the presentation.

Public Works Director Teal Spellman followed with updates on the bid to get the historic Kern Bridge moved to Watonwan County.

The county has been named one of the final three communities (along with Mankato and Fergus Falls) out of an original nine for the moving of the bridge, which was disassembled last year.

A total of 80% of the project will be covered. The other 20% will be covered by state aid dollars.

Full applications are due on December 4th.

"Essentially what we're doing is we're taking the Kern Bridge and we're doing what we call a 15% plan in our location," said Spellman "We're showing MnDOT where we want it designed, not fully designed, just 15%."

The application required two resolutions: a resolution to maintain the facility and a resolution of support and sponsorship.

The resolution to maintain the facility only applies if the county is awarded the bridge.

“They want to maintain history as much as possible," said Spellman.

If the county is awarded the bridge, it will be placed over the south fork of the Watonwan River, about eight miles south of St. James.

CARES funding was given to Madelia School District for COVID-19 testing kits for $9,225. The Watonwan County Jail project $1,760 to provide training for jail staff for mental health situations. Watonwan County Medication Management Coordination received $1,621 to eliminate barriers of transportation to access technology for private services in the Human Services building so they can get in touch with medication management.

Red Rock Rural Water System Board of Commissioners appointments: Marlo Nickel, Les Anderson, Glenn Frederick

USIGG9 Hildi Actuarial Consulting Services


Annual Step Movements: Daniel Rotert, Allison Karau, Katie Christensen, Heide Engel, Charles Beckius

Promote Nery Garcia to Deputy Sheriff

Appoint Daniel Estrada to Detention Officer

Resignation- Timothy Rahn

Retirement- Diane Englin