October 18, 2023 at 10:46 a.m.
Cass County Board:

Second reading of Cannabis Ordinance scheduled for Nov. 7



By By Kyndra Johnson of the Press-Citizen | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

   BACKUS — A public hearing regarding the first reading of an ordinance concerning regulating the use of cannabis and cannabis derived products in public places was conducted during the regular commissioner’s meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17. 

   County Administrator Josh Stevenson stated after publication of the notice regarding the public hearing no comments have been received. However, Stevenson did state “another news media outlet incorrectly reported the county board nixed cannabis use on public lands,” which was incorrect due to the county being required by law to hold two public hearings before approving any ordinance. 

   Commissioner Jeff Peterson expressed concern regarding the restriction of cannabis use on all public land by stating if it was made legal by the state government how can the county restrict where it is consumed. Peterson also questioned the difference between consuming alcohol verses cannabis on public land. Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk stated the language of public land was used per his request to include areas where people congregate and it is unavoidable if cannabis use is taking place.

   Commissioner Gaalswyk motioned to approve the first reading of the ordinance and to consider a second reading and final adoption at a public hearing to be held during the regular board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Commissioner Bob Kangas seconded the motion with the motion passing four to one.

   Stevenson also shared a report from the citizen budget committee, the committee noted with the changes approved at the Sept. 19 and Oct. 3 meeting regarding the Compensation and Market Study and the Insurance Committee recommendations there was an increase to the 2024 budget by $2,030,000. It was also noted there were no additional recommendations to reduce the budget or levy at this time.

   Stevenson then shared information regarding where property taxes are spent, how money is generated for county use by utilizing other taxpayer money and that a 13.25% increase in the levy does not equal a 13.25% property tax increase. It was actually noted that due to Cass County being one of the fastest growing counties in the state the preliminary levy of 13.25% would create an estimated tax capacity rate of 22.40% in 2024, which is a decrease from 22.645% in 2023.

   County 4-H Ambassador Leader Jeanne Rohr shared a report with the commissioners regarding 2022-2023 membership, county fair participants and active 4-H clubs within Cass County. Rohr informed the board although total membership within Cass County is only 89, that number is up 20% from the previous year and they saw 27 new members join during the year. Along with new members joining, clubs saw 17 first generation members and 28 individuals volunteer. 

   Rohr also shared that a total of 80 youth registered a total of 860 4-H projects for the County Fair, however, not all projects registered may have been showcased at the fair. Members will decide on multiple projects to submit, but find that they run out of time to complete them. Out of those projects at the County Fair, 14 youth took a total of 16 projects to display and showcase at the State Fair. Rohr also mentioned Cass County had five youth show horses at the State Horse Show, three youth show dogs at the State Dog Show and 11 youth participated in the regional livestock show. Rohr also stated, currently Cass County has six active clubs.

   In other business, the county board:

   • Heard an update regarding cost of Abdo Financial Solutions being $3,891.50 so far, which is mainly due to many meetings coordinating with staff.

   • Heard the Deep Portage Environmental Learning Center annual report from Executive Director Lindsay Bjorklund and approved the lease agreement between them and the county.

   • Heard an update on the Little Thunder Lake Protection project from Annie Knight, Executive Director of Northern Waters Land Trust.

   • Approved a contract with SafeAssure to provide the Highway Department with OSHA Compliance/Safety needs in the amount of $7,336.

   The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker, commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21 at the Land Department  Meeting room in Backus and AMC Annual Conference Monday, Dec. 4 through Wednesday, Dec. 6 at Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.


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