Crow Wing County is joining the call for passage of a new county program aid formula by the state Legislature during the next session.
The Association of Minnesota Counties is asking county boards to pass resolutions of support in seeking a change in program aid funding from the state. A fact sheet produced by the association notes appropriations have seen drastic fluctuations over the past two decades.
"The 2014 CPA allocation appears almost equal to 1996's amount, but after accounting for inflation, the 2014 allocation is actually $70.2 million less," the release states.
Program aid is allocated to counties by the state to assist in delivery of state-mandated programs at the county level. Three components determine the amount of aid counties receive: need, tax base equalization and transition aid.
This formula, the AMC said, has resulted in one-third of Minnesota's counties losing more than 50 percent of their program aid allocation in the past decade. Twenty-seven Minnesota counties failed to receive program aid at all, the association noted.
Although Crow Wing County was among those counties that has experienced a net increase in aid since 2005, it is not immune to the volatility the AMC is concerned about. County Administrator Tim Houle said the county experienced budgetary issues when the state withdrew its program aid after budgets were set several years ago. Since then, the county has directed those dollars primarily to capital expenditures rather than operational costs, Houle said, to insulate itself from future volatility.
The AMC's proposal is to increase funding overall by $40 million and to create a funding floor that guarantees each county at least $350,000 in tax base equalization aid. The proposal also includes the creation of a 5 percent cap on annual program aid losses to ensure no county sees a decrease at a rate faster than that.
"In an age when counties are forced to do more with less, while still providing quality services and maintaining low property tax burdens, CPA remains an important tool in providing counties with the resources to fund transportation, human services, public safety and many other programs of statewide importance," the AMC release states.
In other business, the county board:
Approved a resolution supporting Central Minnesota EMS Region in seeking new funding sources for emergency medical services from the state Legislature.
Approved a budget amendment to the community services budget, reallocating grant funds from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to the 2016 budget. The funds are to be directed toward child protection staffing and services.
Renewed purchase of service contracts for providers working with community services.
Set county board meeting dates for 2016. The county board will meet on the following days: Jan. 5, Jan. 26, Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 8, March 22, April 12, April 26, May 10, May 24, June 14, June 28, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8, Nov. 22, Dec. 13 and Dec. 27.
Committee of the whole meetings are scheduled: Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 20.
All meetings are set to begin at 9 a.m.
Approved a final payment to Anderson Brothers Construction for construction on County Highway 45 and County Road 121. The final contract amount was $1.37 million, which was 1.6 percent over the original amount. The increase was mainly attributable to the contractor meeting incentive goals.
Approved a final payment to Borden Excavating for Inglewood Drive reconstruction from Woida Road to County Highway 77. The final contract amount was $496,773.56, which was 1.8 percent over the original amount due to the addition of a right turn lane.
Approved a contract extension for court-appointed attorneys Melanie Dotty and Raymond Horton for child in need of protective services and permanency and termination of parental rights cases, and with William O'Hara for commitment cases. The motion extended the contracts through Dec. 31, 2016.
Approved a new position in land services of an aquatic invasive species coordinator. The position is grant-funded.
Supported a new premises gambling permit for Confidence Learning Center for an event at The Woods in Merrifield.
Approved the hiring of the following people: Cameron Larson, correctional officer in the sheriff's office; Heather Benedett, social worker, community services; Shana Lingwall, social worker, community services; Penny Quast, social worker, community services; Rebecca Hermann, 911 communications officer, sheriff's office; and Jessica Shea, accounting technician, auditor/treasurer.
Accepted the departures of the following employees: Jeanne Thull, public health nurse, community services, and Mary Carbone, 911 communications officer, sheriff's office. The board also approved replacement staffing for Carbone's position.