May 24, 2024 at 8:17 a.m.
Cass County Board:

Commissioners begin summer "Road Show" meetings



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

   PINE LAKE TOWNSHIP — Spring has sprung, the snow birds are arriving and the county commissioner’s are on the road again for their annual “Road Show” tour. The first stop was at Pine Lake Township Tuesday, May 21, with a public hearing held to discuss the revocation of a portion of temporary Trunk Highway 34 lying between 18th Ave NW and Plantain Trail NW to Pine Lake Township. 

   A public hearing was previously held regarding this revocation which resulted in concerns about the condition of the road and bringing it up to township standards. The county has completed all of the improvements requested and will reimburse the township for the maintenance of the road for the next two years, as per standard agreement with all revocations. With no objection from citizens present, the motion was approved unanimously.

   The board then addressed an item that was removed from a previous a meeting agenda due to wanting more information and clarification. Sheriff Bryan Welk was present to answer any questions regarding the acceptance of a donation in the amount of $47,928.64 from the Lakes Area Dive Team, Inc. for the purchase of a vehicle to be used by the Lakes Area Dive Team. The information/clarification the board wanted was how Lakes Area Dive Team, Inc. receives funding from Cass County as it was stated they are a non-profit organization and are supported through a combination of local levy funds, donations and other contributions. It was stated that the Lakes Area Dive Team serves the counties of Cass, Hubbard and Beltrami under a joint service agreement. Currently Hubbard and Beltrami  counties contribute $5,000 each year to the Lakes Area Dive Team with several local townships donating approximately $20,000 per year. There are other revenue sources a representative of the Lakes Area Dive Team noted, however it was noted Cass County does not levy for any donation to the Lakes Area Dive Team but does provide garage space and maintenance for the vehicles and equipment. 

   After the explanation and board chair Neal Gaalswyk stating his extreme appreciation for the services Lakes Area Dive Team provides the board unanimously accepted the donation for the purchase of a vehicle.

   Chief Financial Officer Becky Toso presented an updated preliminary capital improvement plan after a request from the board during the last meeting for options to prevent a drastic reduction of the ending fund balance. During the May 7 meeting, after reviewing the capital improvement plan, Gaalswyk had asked the board their thoughts on a “safe” fund balance. No true answer was given, however the board requested Toso come back to the board with a few options after discussing with department heads what their “absolute must” improvements are. 

   Toso presented two options to the board with “Option A” leaving the levy amount at $900,000 for the next five years instead of only the current year and reducing it back to $500,000. With this option the ending fund balance in 2029 would estimated to be $12,550,579 rather than the original amount of $10,005,579.

   “Option B” that Toso presented also had the levy amount remaining at $900,000 for the next five years, but included the cost of two major improvements the county will encounter. The first improvement noted was in the amount of $10 million for the Pine River Transfer Station that the county has been tirelessly lobbying for funding through the state. However, the state has yet to approve the funding for this project. The second improvement included was in the amount of $2 million for the construction of a training and evidence storage facility for the sheriff’s department. This item is only on the plan if the possible purchase of a building from the City of Backus does not meet county’s needs or an agreement cannot be made. With this option the ending fund balance in 2029 would estimated to be $3,450,579.

   Gaalswyk expressed concern with “option B” stating that fund balance would be extremely low and if the county were to see an unexpected project it would possibly eliminate any fund balance the county were to have. Therefore, a motion was made and approved unanimously to continue with the public hearing on June 4 at the regular meeting and proceed with option A to be included in the capital improvement plan.

   In other business, the county board:

   • Awarded the contract for road work on county road 168 and county state aid highways 15, 18 and 77 to R. J. Zavoral and Sons, Inc. in the amount of $6,479,585.37.

   • Awarded a contract for aggregate surfacing in the Remer area to Swenson Aggregates & Construction, LLC in the amount of $393,463.95.

   • Approved a request from the Cass County Planning Commission to begin researching and drafting regulations related to Short-Term Rentals. This request comes from the concern of the impacts short-term rentals are having within the county such as aquatic invasive species, septic system capacity and neighbor complaints.

   • Approved the 2023 fourth quarter budget amendments and transfers.

   • Approved the 2023 fourth quarter budget request for the Self Insurance Fund in the amount of $5,780,000.

   • Adopted a resolution establishing the withholding for reforestation and trails prior to the tax forfeit distribution in the amount of 20% for reforestation and 20% for trails.

   • Awarded the contract for the Health Human Veterans Services condensing unit replacement to Peterson Sheet Metal for the amount of $116,250.

   • Approved the Deep Portage exterior painting project to Geo’s Paint & Finish  for the amount of $87,500. It was noted this was not the low bidder, however they indicated they would be able to complete the job within the shortest amount of time.

   • Approved the Deep Portage window replacement project to Leech Lake Lumber in the amount of $27,606.67 for materials and Hy-Tec Construction in the amount of $85,040 for labor/installation.

   The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 4 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker; AMC District 2 meeting, 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 5 at Beltrami County board room, 701 Minnesota Ave NW, Ste 102, Bemidji; commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 at Salem Township Townhall, 10754 County 52 NE, Remer and annual planning work session, 9 a.m. Thursday, June 20 at Deep Portage Learning Center, 2197 Nature Center Dr NW, Hackensack.


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