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The Dakota County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday morning, Aug. 24, to take action on a pair of topics and open public comment on a third. The three main items on the agenda were a public hearing for comments on the classification of tax-forfeited properties, the awarding of a bid and authorization of work at the Lebanon Hills Regional Park Campground and the boarding of Dakota County inmates at Wright County Jail due to staffing issues.

The board is required to hold a public meeting to hear input about the classification and use of properties that have been forfeited over to the state for non-payment of real-estate taxes. There are 22 such properties up for classification in Dakota County in the West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Eagan, Burnsville, Rosemount, Apple Valley, Lakeville and Coates areas.

The properties can be labeled either conservation or non-conservation. Conservation properties must be maintained and managed by the county for public benefit, while non-conservation properties can be purchased by the public or other government agencies for use. It is recommended by the county staff that all 22 properties be classified as non-conservation. One resident spoke with questions about how to acquire one of the properties, which borders their own. 

After unanimously passing the consent agenda (items of which can be viewed here), the board moved on to its regular agenda. The first item was to award the bid by McNamara Contracting, Inc., and authorize execution of the contract for work on the Lebanon Hills Regional Park Campground entrance. Currently, the entrance to the campground has tight curves that larger RVs struggle to navigate along with limited sightlines on the entrance road. Also, the current road and lights are at the end of their lifetimes. 

The proposed work by McNamara Construction is to widen and straighten the entrance road’s curves, put down new asphalt at the entry and east loop campground road, add pedestrian access from the internal campground road to Johnny Cake Road and upgrade lighting and asphalt in other places. The submitted bid by McNamara Construction is $655,433 and it and the project passed unanimously. Work is projected to start once the campground closes and the aim is to be done by Thanksgiving. 

The final topic on the regular agenda was a proposal by the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office to board inmates at the Wright County Jail as it is facing a shortage of jail staff. The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office has 69.5 full-time equivalent Correctional Deputy and supervisor positions at the jail, 18.5 of which (26%) will be vacant by the end of the month. They will not have the staff to cover all posts at all times. As a result, they propose to house 40 male inmates at Wright County Jail for $55 per day per inmate, which comes out to about $66,000 a month. 

The cost will be covered by the sheriff’s office existing boarding budget through the end of 2021. Should costs run over before the end of the year, more funds will be requested of the county. The proposal passed unanimously.

The public was notified of the possibility of the board going into closed session to discuss the ongoing litigation, but that action was not taken. The next Dakota County Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m. 

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