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Cass board meets in closed session on MPCA issues

WALKER — Cass County Board met in closed session with County Attorney Christopher Strandlie at the end of Tuesday’s regular board meeting to discuss possible pending litigation.

The issue discussed involves Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) allegations that the county and its highway contractors violated MPCA rules during a road construction project.

If the county and/or the contractors contest the allegation, they would have to do so in court, according to Administrator Robert Yochum.

The board set a special meeting for 9 a.m. March 26 at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve near Hackensack to learn more about efficiency measures the state has implemented under its “Lean” program.

The state will pay for a state Lean trainer to explain how 18 agencies have improved processing time an average of 68 percent and service to the public while cutting task time 44 percent and costs an average of $85,000 per event.

While Cass commissioners noted they believe Cass County is ahead of many public bodies in improving efficiencies and paring costs by operating each of the last five years on the same dollar property tax levy, Yochum said he thinks county officials can continue to learn ways to improve services and cut costs.

Yochum also noted the county has had a recent turnover at its middle management level. He would like to see these personnel learn more about efficiencies they could implement.

Minnesota Department of Administration sponsors these training sessions, funded by the state general fund.

Tuesday, the Cass board officially set its meeting schedule for 2013, with regular meetings to start at 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the courthouse in Walker and the third Tuesday of each month at the land department building in Backus.

Tentative exceptions will be to move the Dec. 3 meeting to 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at the courthouse in Walker, to move the location for the Dec. 17 meeting to the courthouse in Walker and to hold both November meetings at the land department building in Backus.

In the months of May through September, the board will meet the second Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at town halls throughout the county rather than in Backus. Locations will be announced later.

The board approved paying employee meals and incidental expenses for costs incurred outside the county at up to $20 per day when no overnight travel is involved. No meals are paid when costs are incurred inside the county.

Up to $46 per day will be paid for costs incurred outside the county when overnight travel is involved. Those rates increase for expenses incurred in Dakota and St. Louis Counties ($56), Hennepin and Ramsey ($71) and Olmstead ($51). Itemized receipts are required for all expense payments.

The board named all five commissioners, Administrator Robert Yochum, Auditor-treasurer Sharon Anderson and County Engineer David Enblom to represent the county as delegates to the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Walker Pilot-Independent was named the official county newspaper for 2013, with Cass Lake Times to print the second publication of the county financial statement. That newspaper’s was the lowest of three bids received.