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Increase in fees for some Crow Wing County departments prompts public hearing Dec.11

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Crow Wing County commissioners scheduled a Dec. 11 public hearing for proposed increases in fees for some departments.

Laureen Borden, auditor-treasurer, said there were no changes in the general fees or community services but changes are proposed in land services, geographic information systems and the sheriff’s office.

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In land services, suggested changes included charging $100 for a stormwater permit fee. No fee is charged currently. The county is proposing refunding $75 if the plan is installed within the first year and $50 as a refund if it is installed within the second year. The county reports the goal is to motivate implementation and allow staff to review the installation more quickly.

Other fee changes include going from $50 to $100 for a wetland exemption, increasing an E911 address fee from $55 to $75, charging $100 per application for a minor subdivision, splitting land into three lots or fewer if they are less than 10 acres in size.

For the sheriff’s department, changes included increasing costs related to serving papers related to civil court proceedings.

Commissioner Paul Thiede questioned the plan to close the sheriff’s office firing range to other agencies in 2013. Previously, the county charged a range fee of $375. The sheriff’s office stated the reason for the closing was because of the opening of private shooting ranges. The Mills Fleet Farm shooting range is expected to open soon. Thiede asked if closing the range to other governmental units like cities or townships would suddenly have them faced with a budget issue they didn’t expect.

Debi Backdahl, chief deputy, said there were concerns about noise from the neighborhood and there is a question of how much the county would have to put into of maintenance for the range for safety, Backdahl said.

Thiede asked if the county used the range wouldn’t they need to do maintenance anyway. Borden said more information about this change could be brought back to the board to answer Thiede’s questions.

In other business, the board:

Discussed the transport service bid. When the item came up on the agenda, Thiede said he wanted to give incoming board member Paul Koering an opportunity to talk about the contract lest there be a concern about a conflict.

Koering doesn’t take office until January. He’s had the contract to transport bodies for the medical examiner when an autopsy is called for during the past two years as part of his long-standing Koering Livery Service business. He was the sole bidder for the service this year.

The board approved a two-year contract with Koering Livery Service at a rate of $395 per transport from the county to its designated morgue, an increase from a $250 rate previously. In 2011, there were 46 transports to St. Paul for a total of $11,500. In 2012, there were 52 transports costing $13,000.

Koering provides the vehicles, cots, sheets, body bags out of his costs and the transportation expense from distances like Emily and Crosslake to St. Paul. Koering said it averages out to $1.31 per hour considering he is on call all the time.

“I’m pretty confident that’s a reasonable fee for the county,” he said of the bid, adding the contract closed on Oct. 26 before he was elected and he didn’t feel there was a conflict of interest.

Renewed a contract with Heartland Animal Rescue Team (HART) for impound service for dangerous dogs at $50 per pay per animal for a maximum of 10 days. The contract is extended to Dec. 31, 2013. If the dog is claimed, the owner is charged for the bill. If the dog isn’t claimed, the county pays the impound fee and the cost of putting the dog down.

As of Oct. 31, the county cost was $1,644.87 for two dangerous dogs.

In addition, the county, which acts as the town board for Unorganized Territory, extended the HART contract for animal control in the rural area through 2013.

The impound rate for stray dogs is $14 with an administrative fee at $638.88 per month. From January through October, 18 dogs were impounded with 12 dogs going back home to their owners who paid the fee. Four dogs were adopted by HART and two dogs were euthanized. The total cost was $7,463.43.

Entered a contract with the city of Garrison to provide 2013 election coordination services for $115.

Entered a grant agreement for $44,116 with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the road and bridge disaster relief allowing the county to use state funds for the required 20 percent match related to four repair projects from summer flooding. The projects were repaired with 80 percent federal funding.

Agreed to close county government buildings at noon on Christmas Eve.

Accepted the resignation of Brandon Andersen as District 2 representative on the Crow Wing County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Learned the entire length of Novotny Road is now within in the city of Baxter and thus is no longer in the county’s jurisdiction for the First Assessment District of Unorganized Territory.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852
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