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Paynesville Press - May 28, 2003

County board raises fees

By Michael Jacobson

Stearns County has increased fees for the Environmental Service Department, including for feedlots, septic systems, site permits, and variances, effective June 1, 2003.

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners approved the fee increases in May, on a 4-1 vote, with Don Otte, Fifth District Commissioner, voting against it. Otte, who represents the western half of the county, including Paynesville, cited the higher increases for feedlot permits in voting against the fee raise.

The board agreed to raise fees in light of state budget cuts and the unallocation of state grants. "Given what the state did to us, I don't see any other option but to approve the fees," said Mark Sakry, Second District Commissioner.

The auditor's office, in conjunction with environmental services, did an in-depth fee study and found that taxpayers, not the user, were paying a large portion of the costs of providing these services. By raising the fees, the Environmental Services Department will recover a higher percentage of the cost from the person requesting the service not the general taxpayer.

This was the first time the county did such an extensive fee study.

Fee changes included: raising feedlot construction permits from $78 to $100; changing feedlot processing fees from $52 to $75 (1-99 animal units), from $208 to $125 (100-299 animal units), from $468 to $300 (300 to 499 animal units), and from $468 to $500 (500 animal units and above); raising shoreland alteration permits from $78 to $100 (minor) and from $156 to $200 (major); increasing construction site permits from $78 to $100; increasing variances and interim-use permits from $156 to $225; and raising conditional-use permits from $156 to $250.

The entire new fee schedule for environmental services can be found at

Changes to the fee schedule will take effect on June 1, 2003. Other county departments are expected to study their fee schedules in the near future.

Jeff Bertram appointed to planning commission
Jeff Bertram of Paynesville was appointed to the Steans County Planning Commission by the county commissioners in March.

The county planning commission is responsible for reviewing and recommending ordinance changes and conducting public hearings on plats, rezoning requests, conditional-use permits, etc.

Bertram will also serve on the Stearns County Board of Adjustments, a quasi-judicial body that acts on variance requests from county ordinances and appeals to decisions from the Environmental Services Department.

Bertram, who is the chair of the Paynesville Planning Commission, was appointed to a three-year term.

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