State: Wabasha County owes $115,579 for feedlot fiasco
WABASHA — In a letter dated April 24, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources gave Wabasha County 60 days to pay the board $115,579 it says the county owes for violations with how grants were handled a few years ago for two county feedlots.
In addition, the state says the county now owes $9,294.31 in investigation costs, more than double the $4,023.50 the state had initially sought. The state has also been holding back $93,892 the county would have received for local water, wetland, shoreland, sewage and feedlot programs until the matter is resolved.
The county did satisfy the state with its plan for avoiding similar problems in the future, but the matter of the two payments has continued.
In the letter, BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said the county had suggested that repayment would only be required if there were no more violations. But that was before further investigation by the state.
"Based on the number and severity of violations, BWSR is dismissing this option," Jaschke said.
Until the money is returned, the county won't be able to get any more BWSR grants, he wrote.
However, he did say that the Wabasha County Soil and Water Conservation District and county staff were cooperative in the investigation.
Interim County Administrator Michael Plante said he has informed the county board about the letter and he plans to meet with the county attorney's office Thursday to discuss what to do next. He expects the matter could be on the board's May 20 agenda.
The matter goes back a few years when former county feedlot officer Troy Dankemeyer got state money for upgrading two feedlots. State allegations include that he did not document whether problems with waste were corrected, there were no engineering plans, there was no operation or maintenance plan, a contract didn't appear to have the landowner's signature, animal units were inaccurate and invoices were dated before the agreement was executed.