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Fillmore County commissioners ready to break from three-county corrections agreement

The decision maintains the Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections agreement through end of the year.

Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections logo
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ROCHESTER — Fillmore County plans to pull out of a three-county agreement providing corrections supervision and other services.

“We’ve been talking about it for years,” Fillmore County Administrator Bobbie Hillery said Wednesday. “Mainly, we’ve talked about the budget over the years.”

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The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to end the agreement with Olmsted and Dodge counties, which started in 2011. The combined effort provides supervision of adults and juveniles on probation, as well as victim services, in each of the counties.

The joint powers agreement that operated Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections will remain in place until the end of the year, but the partners are required to provide notice by June 1 if they plan to discontinue the combined effort.

Hillery said the commissioners have discussed the possibility of leaving the agreement for years and cited increased costs as a key concern.

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Since 2011, the annual expense to Fillmore County has risen from $352,886 to $479,406, which included a nearly $56,000 increase this year. Hillery said the increase was equal to a 0.5 percent property tax levy increase for the county.

Another factor in the discussions has been legislation passed in 2016, according to Hillery.

“Before, we weren’t allowed to do community corrections because of our size, so we had to be part of a joint powers board,” she said of the county with approximately 21,000 residents.

The 2016 state legislation allowed smaller counties to transition from combined agreements, but Hillery said county commissioners and staff were hesitant to move forward in the past.

“We thought this was the year to take that on,” she said.

In a statement from Olmsted County, Deputy Administrator Travis Gransee, who previously served as director of DFO Corrections, said the intent of earlier requirements was to “promote efficiency and economy in the delivery of correctional services at a local level.”

He said Olmsted County supports Fillmore County’s decision to pursue more local control of its services.

Hillery said the county will continue to discuss how its local corrections program will work, but staff remains confident it can be a successful part of the local community services operations.

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“We want to see what we can do internally with our own corrections team,” she said, noting commissioners directed staff to seek a new director and develop a staffing plan to maintain services.

Through the joint agreement, Olmsted County staffs six corrections employees in Fillmore County, but Hillery said it remains unclear whether the local effort will require as many, but numbers will be based on the caseload.

“It’s probably something we will task the new director with.,” Hillery said, adding that the director would have a caseload with two to three additional probation officers.

Victim services would likely be housed with a different county department, such as the county attorney or social services.

Nikki Niles, the director of DFO Community Corrections, said the Olmsted County employees staffed in Fillmore County this year are expected to be able to maintain employment with Olmsted County.

Hillery said she expects the transition will be as smooth as possible, with a focus on the clients.

“We definitely want to make sure we take our time and do the right way,” she said. “We want to be good partners and work through it.”

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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