Monday, November 28, 2005, 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 the budget expenses of the first quarter of FY-06 and the projected budget for FY-2007.  There was a 2.4% increase in the 1st quarter expenses for FY-06 compared to the 1st quarter last year.  For planning purposes a 3.5% increase was recommended.  The increases in the FY-2007 budget is  $258,243 for district employee benefits. 


Noland Farmer gave an overview of the Cost-Share Program for FY-2005.  He compared the dollars claimed and practice percentages for FY-2004 and FY-2005.  These reports did not include any of the SALT AgNPS cost-share amounts.  $20.1 million was claimed last year. There was a question as to why the tons of soil saved for DSL1 and DSL 2 increased.  Noland explained it may have been partially due to the change in RUSLE2, may have been partly due to economic factors and field conditions, but no one really knows. 


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-2005 $97,033 was refunded to landowners.   Of the loans in FY-2005, 60% are for No-Till Planters, 36% are for No-Till Drills, and 4% for other items.  She presented a map showing which Districts have active loans, and also a slide showing the average annual interest rates.


Jim Boschert reviewed the FY-05 District Assistance Grant expenditures.  He went over how the funds were spent.  99% of the Management, 97% of the Technical and 95% of the Administrative funds were spent.  For the Matching Grant funds, 93% of those were spent.    85% of the Matching Grant funds were used for personnel.  Jim also reviewed the funds spent for the health insurance and retirement benefits.


Jim Plassmeyer reviewed information on the income and expenses of the districts for fiscal year 2005.  This was the fourth year that the total income for all districts exceeded $10 million.  76% or just over $9.4 million were state funds.  Jim showed a map that indicated by groups the amount of carryover for the districts at the end of fiscal year 2005, which districts experienced financial growth in FY-05, and the percent of funding that is used for personnel cost.


Jim Boschert gave a summary of the salaries and benefit expenses.  Jim distributed a chart that had the average salaries for each position by area.  Following this there was discussion on how to get cost of living increases for district employees and how to make their salaries more comparable to other local salaries.


Kenny Struemph gave a report on the SALT AgNPS program.  He showed a map with the locations of the current and completed SALT projects.  He presented a chart showing the percentages by cost-share practice.  61% of the cost-share funding in the SALT AgNPS projects was spent on erosion control practices.  He also reviewed the dollars spent in FY-05 per call.


Roger Hansen discussed the topic of office closures.  He stated that the FSA office closures had been put on hold temporarily, but he felt it would start resurfacing after the first of the year.  He stated he was directed by the NRCS Chief to do a business analysis for offices to make sure the cost of doing business was feasible. He will be looking at those offices where there are only NRCS and the SWCD or possibly RD or Watershed offices, and offices that are on the FSA closing list.  Roger stated that if a decision is going to be made on closing an office he planned to bring the district, MASWCD and the Commission into the discussion early on.


Bill Wilson reviewed the program for the Supervisor Training Conference and the theme. The opening session is today, Monday afternoon at 1:00 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 11-23-05, there were 677 pre-registered.


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


Joint meeting adjourned at 9:30 a.m. with the Commission and MASWCD both continuing in separate meetings at 10:00 a.m.