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Ditch 25 redetermination of benefits moves forward

Otter Tail County Commissioners are moving forward with a procedure to redetermine benefits related to repairs along Ditch 25, west of Perham.

The action, approved at the Sept. 25 county board meeting, coincided with a ditch viewers' report submitted to the board.

Redetermination of benefits is a formal process of identifying all users of a drainage system and assessing specific benefits to each parcel of land. The process is meant to ensure a fair and equitable share of repair costs - but not everyone always agrees on who benefits and who doesn't.

Public drainage ditches and tile are owned by the people who benefit from them. Owners of all benefited parcels pay a proportionate cost of repairs, regardless of the location of the repairs.

By state statute, county drainage authorities are established to manage and maintain public drainage systems.

In Otter Tail County, the ditch viewers coordinate their efforts with County Auditor Wayne Stein.

"We need to start with cleaning of this ditch (25)," said board Chairman Lee Rogness at the meeting.

County Engineer Rick West said the next step would be determining what repairs are needed on the ditch.

Minnesota is home to one of the nation's largest systems of human-made drainage ditches. Artificial drainage systems provide a framework for moving water across the landscape.

Repairs needed at other ditches, too

Commissioners also addressed the need for repairs at other ditches in the county, in addition to Ditch 25.

County Engineer Rick West said that ditches 38, 41 and 65, all in the New York Mills area, are in need of repair. He said that some of the work could begin this fall.

The board authorized borrowing of funds, not to exceed $50,000, for each of the three ditches.

Commissioners also approved the cleaning out of a private ditch, No. 19, in Eastern Township near Parkers Prairie.

Solid Waste fee plan approved

The county board approved a market price of $64.57 per ton for a facility, based on a tipping fee amount of $35.35 per ton at the Dakota Landfill in Gwinner, N.D., and an additional contracted transportation cost of $29.22 per ton.

Otter Tail County, in addition to hauling refuse to the station at Gwinner, also operates a refuse burner in Perham.

The refuse burner operation, technically known as the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority, includes the counties of Otter Tail, Becker, Todd and Wadena. Plans include the addition of a Material Recovery Facility to be built in 2013.

Procedures call for separating certain components of the municipal solid waste stream in the service area prior to waste combustion. Separated materials will be available for recycling.

County saves money through shared services

Otter Tail County Human Services, which normally would be responsible for $151,000 in children's day treatment programs, will be responsible for only $53,693 of that program. Other funding will come from Fergus Falls-based Lakeland Mental Health Center and area school districts.

The funding breakdown was provided to the county board last week by Community Services Director John Dinsmore.

This is part on an ongoing effort to pool with other counties and entities for providing various services. Combining health services is an example of cooperative efforts in recent months.