Wabasha County to remodel board room with CARES Act funds
The board will use part of the county's $2.6 million in federal funds to make the board room more conducive to social distancing.
WABASHA — The Wabasha County Board of Commissioners disagreed over whether spending a portion of the county's Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding on a remodeled board room was a good use of the money.
The board discussed an agenda item to hire a consultant to use part of the county's $2.6 million CARES Act funding to help remodel the board room where the commissioners hold their twice-monthly meetings in order to allow more social distancing in the seating and improve both the sound and video systems.
"If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right," said Commissioner Rich Hall, who initially was skeptical of using CARES Act money on the project.
Commissioner Brian Goihl said the county should not use CARES Act funding on a project that ostensibly benefits the board and not the public at large.
But Commissioner Don Springer said the project would benefit the public. For example, he said, the audio system in the room has long been seen as inadequate, making it hard to hear discussion either within the room or when watching meetings online, whether live or recorded.
Furthermore, Springer said, the money will get spent no matter what. If the county does not spend all its CARES Act funds, the money will be returned to the state or federal government to be spent elsewhere.
Goihl suggested the county needed to do a better job of letting the public know that a pool of money was available for businesses and residents who have been negatively impacted financially by COVID-19.
Springer agreed that residents and businesses need to step forward for CARES Act funds if they've been impacted to see how that money can help them through the financial difficulties. He noted that SEMMCHRA is helping the county administer the funds, and anyone interested should reach out to either the county or the nonprofit organization.
"If we don’t use this money, someone else will," Springer said. "If I thought this would go back to the taxpayers if we didn’t use it, I would not recommend this. But someone will use this money."
The motion passed 4-1, with Goihl voting no.
In other business:
• The board approved a conditional use permit for a resort and campground located between Lake City and Camp Lacupolis. The campground would have a maximum of 14 spaces for recreational vehicles.
• The board approved a conditional use permit for a winery and wedding event center venue in Zumbro Township.