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Cass County property valuation remains steady

WALKER — Appraisals the assessing department presented to the Cass County board Tuesday marked the first time in six years the county’s overall property valuation had not dropped.

The overall value rose in the last year from $4,693,313,200 in 2013 to $4,721,634,400, plus $780,800 in new construction for a .6 percent rise in the townships. It rose from $1,285,362,200 in 2013 to $1,300,105,700, plus $9,447,400 new construction for a 1.15 percent rise in the cities.

These totals do not include the value of pipe lines and power lines that the state appraises.

Within individual cities and towns, though, there were mixed results, with some still declining as much as 6 percent, while others rose over 8 percent.

Chief Deputy Assessor Penny Vikre said the results do not reflect an indication of any specific type of property selling well or poorly from one year to the next, because county appraisers use six year averages of sales to determine trends.

In new construction, she said she sees more improvements like additions or garages for existing properties than building whole new homes in the new construction results, but new construction does show a slight improvement in 2014.

Cass County’s share the U.S. Forest Service pays to the highway department and schools in the county has declined annually from $466,552.87 in 2009 to $283,548.22 in 2013. Some of that funding loss came from the federal sequester, Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe said.

Veterans services officers (VSO) saw 93 veterans at the Backus office, 27 at the Walker office and 13 in Remer, 14 in Pillager and seven in Cass Lake during visits to satellite offices during the first quarter this year. VSOs also made 11 visits to veterans in their own home.

Vets transportation program volunteers provided 132 rides over 26,175 miles to take vets to medical appointments at Veterans Administration clinics and hospitals the first quarter 2014.

The Minnesota State Soldier Assistance program paid for $9,629 in dental and optical services for Cass vets the first quarter.

According to state records 1,295 Cass County residents received $5,174,628 in federal veteran benefits in 2013.

Health, human and veterans services spent 22.53 percent of the budget after 25 percent of the year or $13,195,585.

Only 18 percent of the out of home child placement budget was spent the first 25 percent of the year. There were 56 to 59 children in placement each month so far this year.

The county board approved renewing contracts with five waste hauling companies in the county through the end of this year to provide cardboard collection bins for businesses and schools and to pick up the bins and take them to the recycle center at Pine River.

Haulers are paid based on mileage and number of businesses they serve. There is no cost increase over 2013.

The board approved hiring Wenck Associates of Woodbury for $12,800 to update Cass’s solid waste plan. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires an update every 10 years.

The commissioners created a building and grounds supervisor position under Central Services Director Tim Richardson and promoted maintenance mechanic Cecil Louks to fill the position. He will supervise another maintenance mechanic and two custodians as well as coordinate contracts the county has with Honeywell and Marsden.

Revize Software Systems of Troy, Mich., won the county’s contract to re-design the county website and provide ongoing maintenance for it. Cost will be $18,568 for the re-design and $2,500 for annual maintenance.

The contract also includes a site refresh in the fifth year of maintenance. Another 25 firms bid for that work.

The board approved a contract with Moondance Country Jam for June 20-21 and Moondance Jam for July 17-19 for the sheriff to provide law enforcement services for those events. The contracts require promoters also to provide additional security personnel.

Turtle Lake Cemetery of Hope Lutheran Church donated $400 for equipment for the county sentence to serve crew. Shingobee and Fairview Townships each donated $500 to the sheriff for the Lakes Area Dive Team.

The sheriff’s office reported 22 men participated in the sentence to serve program the first quarter this year, working off $1,783 in fines and 35 days jail time. They provided 1,112 hours of service for the county, 24 for cities and 232 for non-profit agencies. Their hours are valued at $8 per hour.