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Final details of Fillmore County's split with DFO Community Corrections in the works

Fillmore County has withheld final payment for the three-county operation in an effort to ensure the return of any budget surplus after the county starts its own probation supervision operation in 2023.

Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections logo
DFO Community Corrections.
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ROCHESTER — A nearly $120,000 check to cover Fillmore County’s share of expenses related to the final months of a three-county agreement providing probation supervision and other related services is likely to be revisited within two weeks.

“There will be a motion to do something,” Fillmore County Commissioner Duane Bakke said Wednesday of a Dec. 13 commissioners’ meeting.

Bakke and his fellow Fillmore County commissioners opted to put off sending the payment in November, citing concern about what will happen if an anticipated budget surplus is confirmed by a 2023 audit.

Fillmore County announced in May that it planned to pull out of the agreement with Dodge and Olmsted counties that formed DFO Community Corrections to join forces for probationary and other services.

The state provided $2.5 million for the three-county operation this year, with each county contributing additional funding based on population and need for services.

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With Olmsted County leading operations, six staff members have been assigned to work with Fillmore County cases, and DFO Community Corrections Director Nikki Niles said the staff continues working in the county but has cleared their desks for the new Fillmore County staff.

Bakke said four full-time staff members are in place to take over probation supervision in Fillmore County next year.

While the county will start receiving direct support for probation services, it will also continue to benefit from a state grant awarded to the three counties for coordination of victim services. The grant funding extends through September 2023.

On Wednesday, commissioners from Dodge and Olmsted counties acknowledged that Fillmore County should be given its share of any budget surplus recorded at the end of 2022.

Olmsted County accountants estimate $495,000 could be available at the end of the year, with Fillmore County’s share expected to be $34,000.

“There are always things that could happen,” Olmsted County Controller Janet Erickson said of the estimates with a month left in the year. “Today, this is our best guess.”

If the estimates hold true, Olmsted County would receive a return of $414,000 and Dodge County would see $47,000, based on the contributions to the three-county department.

While attorneys from Fillmore and Olmsted counties have been working on an agreement related to refunding any surplus, Olmsted County Commissioner Jim Bier recommended a show of support for the refund during Wednesday’s meeting of the DFO joint powers board. It was unanimously approved.

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“Nobody is going to renege on that,” he said, adding that he trusts Fillmore County will approve release of the payment that is due.

Bakke said the only other outstanding issue appears to be possession of furniture that was used by DFO corrections staff. When they moved from Fillmore County offices, a conference table, chairs and filing cabinets were moved to Olmsted County.

Niles said the furniture was purchased by Olmsted County for the corrections staff in Fillmore County and an offer to sell items at a low price was made but rejected.

Bakke, who said he had recently discovered the furniture was removed, is trying to determine whether some of it was purchased during a 2002 remodeling project funded by Fillmore County.

“We’ll get it straightened out,” he said.

With the transition, Dodge and Olmsted counties are in the process of updating an agreement with the state to reflect the removal of Fillmore County. The new agreement will reduce the state contribution to the new D&O Community Corrections by $314,000 for 2023.

“Those monies have been offset and accounted for in our budget,” Niles said of Olmsted County’s 2023 spending plan.

The corrections department has reduced staffing for next year in anticipation of the change to a two-county operation.

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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