By Dale Moerke, Luverne
In the July 29 edition of the Daily Globe, the story “Making progress: Luverne’s economic development efforts highlighted during lieutenant governor visit” had me scratching my head.
Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre states he is concerned if 100 percent broadband coverage is obtainable in Rock County because of prevailing wage requirements. In February of this year, Rock County commissioners were made aware that $2.1 million was needed in addition to the $5 million grant from the state and $7.5 million from Alliance Communications to complete the project. Alliance Communications offered $1.1 million if Rock County would fund the balance of $1 million. In subsequent board meetings the additional $1 million was approved, and during the May 5 board meeting Administrator Oldre noted that the project was “progressing very well.”
Rock County Administrator Oldre and others would like us to believe that Minnesota’s prevailing wage law is the culprit here. The broadband grant program clearly states that Minnesota’s prevailing wage rates would apply (http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/). There should be no surprise, and these rates should have been calculated into the grant application. Administrator Oldre also implies that the rates are metropolitan rates and we should look to South Dakota for guidance. What? I would expect that a county administrator with his experience would know that each county has its own prevailing wage rate - and that Rock County’s rate is a far cry from the rates of Hennepin and Ramsey counties.
I am excited that this project will put Rock County in a position that will allow us to thrive and prosper. There is no need to disparage a program that ensures that ALL will prosper when tax dollars are used on public projects.