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County still looking for ways to cut

  LAKE SHORE — Administrator Robert Yochum and Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe informed the county board Tuesday they are meeting with each department head to look for ways to further cut county expenditures in order to offset state aid losses in 2012.

The proposed budget the county board preliminarily adopted Aug. 30 included over $400,000 in departmental budget cuts from 2011 to 2012.

Otherwise, Wolfe said, the county would have to cut from the budget in 2012 or get $900,000 more from property taxes in 2012 than 2011 to offset the state revenue permanently lost this year. The county had a reserve fund set aside the cover the 2011 loss, but has no reserve fund for 2012 at this point.

New state legislation would permit the county to cut 10 percent off its allocation to Kitchigami Library system, but the commissioners first want a report from Director Marian Ridge concerning what services would be lost if the county did lower the library allocation.

Wolfe reported 71 bidders attended the county surplus equipment auction this year. The county sold 14 vehicles and a variety of office and other equipment to generate $26,784 total receipts.

 Sheriff Tom Burch, with assistance from county employees, conducted the annual auction for the first time this year.

 Cass commissioners awarded the county’s annual heating propane supply contract to Ferrellgas at $1.742 per gallon, the lowest of three quotes received. Longville Ambulance Service and Deep Portage Conservation Reserve will be able to buy the heating fuel at the same rate under the county contract.

No one appeared to comment on the county’s proposed changes to the tobacco ordinance. The most significant change would be to add fines for employees selling tobacco products to minors. The ordinance previously only had provision for fining business owners/managers.

There will be a second reading and hearing Oct. 4 at the courthouse in Walker before the board is expected to adopt the changes.

 Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported the county has received $730,038.03 interest income on investments for the general revenue fund through August this year, compared with $681,953.26 last year.

Cass County Economic Development Director Gail Leverson worked with 31 businesses interested during August on expanding or opening new businesses in the county. If all the proposed projects are completed, it would mean 410 jobs created or retained and $28,142,000 new investment in these businesses, she reported.

Leverson also noted the free computer training now open to businesses at the Central Lakes College outreach center at Pine River. For more information, contact Leverson at (218) 947-7522.

Tuesday, the board referred to contract labor counsel Tom Fitzpatrick of Brainerd a grievance filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union — health, human and veterans services bargaining unit. The union objects to the fact the county created a case aide position within that department without consulting the union about the terms and conditions for the position.

The board voted to hire Government Management Group for $5,100 per year to complete a cost allocation plan to determine how much time supervisors and employees spend administering state and federal programs for which the county can then bill the state and federal governments for reimbursement of their time costs.

Hackensack American Legion Auxiliary donated $300 to the county veterans transportation program, a county service that provides drivers to take veterans to medical appointments.