Monday, November 29, 2004, 8:00 a.m.


Introductions were made around the table. In attendance were the Soil and Water Commission, the MASWCD Board, DNR Program Staff, Roger Hansen of NRCS, Brad McCord of MDC, Dave Baker of University Extension, and a few soil and water district representatives.

Steve Oetting and Liz Brown welcomed everyone and explained the purpose of the joint meeting.

Milton Barr reported on last year’s budget and the projected budget for FY-2006. Increases in the FY-2006 budget include $241,043 for district employee benefits and $9503 reallocation of funds back to the Program from the Elm Street administration. Milton also reported on the 2003 audit completed on DNR. He stated that of the 10 audit findings, 8 have now been implemented. The remaining 2 audit findings will not be implemented. These are the use of a rubber stamp for approvals and the formula used for allocation of District Assistance Grants.

Ron Redden gave an overview of the Cost-Share Program for FY-2004. He compared the dollars claimed and practice percentages for FY-2003 and FY-2004. He stated 77 Districts obligated 80% or more of their cost-share funds and 65 Districts actually claimed 80% or more of these funds in FY-2004. The appropriation process for FY-2005 is slightly different and the Commission has decided to over-obligate in order to claim as close as possible to the $20.25 million appropriation. In the past Districts have claimed from 84% to 87% of the funds they have been allocated.

Marcy Oerly reported on the Loan Interest Share Program. She explained the purpose of the program and what practices and equipment are eligible for the program. In FY-2004 $123,344 was refunded to landowners. Of the loans in FY-004, 59% are for No-Till Planters, 39% are for No-Till Drills, and 2% for other items. She presented a map showing which Districts have active loans, and also a slide showing the average annual interest rates.

Kenny Struemph gave a report on the SALT AgNPS program. He showed a map with the locations of the current and completed SALT projects. In FY-2004, 67% of the funds were spent on cost-share 25% on personnel and 8% on other items such as administration, office technical and field equipment, information education, planning grants, and MOCREP. He presented a chart showing the percentages by cost-share practice. The recent call for proposals has produced 23 preliminary applications. There is enough funding for 7 or 8 projects at the full amount of $750,000.

Jim Plassmeyer reviewed information on the income and expenses of the districts for fiscal year 2004. This was the third year in a row that the total income for all districts exceeded $10 million. Sales income and machine rental income both increased in FY-2004. 76% or just over $9 million went toward employee related costs. Since this information has been compiled starting in 1993, the income has increased 46.1% and the expenses have increased 52.4%. Jim showed a map that indicated by groups the amount of carryover for the districts at the end of fiscal year 2004.

Jim Boschert reviewed the staffing numbers. The number of district employees in FY-2003 was 353, in FY-2004 was 331, to date for FY-2005 is 320. The higher numbers in 2002and 2003 included positions with turnover. The gross salaries paid to district employees increased 13% in FY-2002, 10% in FY-2003, 2% in FY-2004, and 2% in FY-2005. This information is taken from the benefit agreements signed by the districts. Jim showed a chart that had the average salaries for each position by area and the percent increase from FY-1999. Again, this information was taken from the benefit agreements. Jim also reviewed the benefit grant funds for FY-2004.

Steve Jeanetta gave an update on the Planning process. He stated that the priorities from the 8 Area Meetings have been coded according to themes. In his workshop he will have Districts complete a survey to indicate the 3 most important priorities, what is missing, and how they feel the information should be used. In January or February he will have a summary for the Commission to use for the planning for the next year.

Bill Wilson reviewed the training for the Supervisor Training Conference and the theme. There are 23 different workshops with the first set starting later today at 3:00 p.m. He reviewed what the workshops will cover. The opening session is today, Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. The MASWCD annual meeting is Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. Everyone will be able to attend for the first 2 hours. The conference will end with the closing lunch. As of close of business Wednesday 11-24-04, there were 744 pre-registered.

Steve Oetting and Commissioner Liz Brown both emphasized the importance of the sales tax and its renewal.

Roger Hansen stated he had just approved a grant for MASWCD for leadership capacity for $20,000.

Joint meeting adjourned at 9:00 a.m. with the Commission and MASWCD both continuing in separate meetings at 9:30 a.m.