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Cass County Board: County officials meet with area legislators

WALKER — Administrator Robert Yochum reported Tuesday on the county board’s meeting with area legislators in St. Paul during the recent Association of Minnesota Counties convention.

Sens. John Carlson and Paul Gazelka and Reps. Larry Howes and John Persell provided progress reports on issues Cass commissioners raised.

Cass has hoped to see the state expedite land exchanges with counties but Yochum reported no legislative hearings have been scheduled on that issue. None are scheduled on the county’s request to have the state waive sales taxes on equipment the county has purchased to convert to the 800 MHz emergency radio system.

There are different bills in the House and Senate addressing school trust land administration. This issue is in conference committees, Yochum said, noting Cass prefers the Senate version that maintains payments in lieu of tax to counties and does not create a new, separate agency to oversee school trust land.

Extending MnCare coverage to additional public safety volunteers such as first responders appears unlikely, Yochum reported. In fact, legislators seem more inclined to withdraw coverage for some volunteers currently being covered.

On aquatic invasive species, Yochum reported the governor’s supplemental budget includes a request for additional funding to enable the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to focus on education.

Beltrami County’s request for $250,000 to pay pre-design costs toward a veterans home in that county is included in the House version of the omnibus bill so far, but Todd County’s request for funding toward a senior center is not, Yochum said.

Changes are being discussed on budget reporting and property tax notices to the public, which could include allowing some posting on local government websites, but it is too early to tell what those changes finally will be, Yochum said.

Cass commissioners told their legislators they support applying open meeting law standards to the Workers Compensation Reinsurance Association.

In other reports to the public at Tuesday’s county board meeting, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson said she has applied for grants of up to $5,000 from Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium and between $1,500 and $3,000 from Essentia Health Take Heart Program, which could offset about half the county’s $15,300 cost to buy AED resuscitation devices for county buildings.

Chippewa National Forest will pay the sheriff’s department up to $9,954.33 for deputies to patrol within the forest between May 2 and Sept. 30 this year. The forest service pays $26.06 per hour, plus deputy benefits for regular hours and $39.09, plus benefits for overtime service hours. The service also pays the county 55.5 cents per mile, the standard IRS rate.