Cass County Board: Commissioners support legislative initiatives
WALKER—Cass County Board will support the following Association of Minnesota Counties legislative positions when the commissioners attend the Dec. 6-8 AMC conference:
• A state transportation gas tax increase.
• State funding for county attorney and sheriff's office comparable to that the state pays to county human services for increased work required to increase child protection services.
• An increased percent of tribal sales taxes the state collects. The state currently pays 10 percent of tribal taxes to Cass. Leech Lake Band has endorsed Cass's request to raise the local share.
• State should refund to local governments any court ordered property tax refunds paid to utilities where assessments were set by the state.
Cass County used an online auction service rather than a live auction this year to sell excess county property. The sale netted $14,077.09 to the county after $214.93 advertising expenses. Cass split a total of $963.48 advertising expenses with two other counties and the city of Dilworth.
Cass sold two pickups, five cars, four chainsaws, a blower, office furniture and eight bicycles.
Hope Torma introduced herself to the county board Tuesday. She replaces Kelly Felton as the Working Together Coalition program coordinator. Working Together recently received notice they will have a five-year, $125,000 per year federal grant to operate the program.
Torma graduated from Menahga High School in 2003 and Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, with a bachelor of science in justice administration and minor in sociology.
She has worked with at-risk youth in southwest Minnesota and most recently regionally coordinated drug free programs and did training.
Torma has moved back to Menahga with her son, Jonas. She enjoys spending time with family, cooking, baking and spending time with her third-grader son.
Administrator Robert Yochum obtained board approval to pursue an amendment to the county's lease through 2016 with Cass County Economic Development Corporation to open an EDC office in the lower level of the courthouse in Walker for the new director, Jaimee Meyer.
The current land department at Backus EDC office would be converted to Health, Human and Veterans Services Department use. The office support specialist currently in that office will move to an office upstairs in the land department.
Yochum said he expects Meyer and the office support specialist to interchangeably use the Backus and Walker EDC office spaces. All communal spaces in both buildings would open to EDC use as well.
Kevin Lee of Longville Ambulance Service reported the service has transported 31 fewer patients through September this year than last year. They transported 165 this year.
With fewer patients and, thus, lower revenue, the service had only nine-tenths of one percent profit through the third quarter. The service had expected to make a 9.4 percent profit.
During the third quarter, compared with earlier 2015 months and prior years, more patients chose to go to Brainerd and Bemidji hospitals and fewer chose to go to Crosby.
Cass commissioners approved a resolution calling for the Minnesota Legislature to provide a more stable funding source for Central Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Board.
Primary funding for that comes from seatbelt violation fines. As seatbelt use has improved, the fine collections have dropped.
This means the EMS board had seen a marked decline in money they have passed on to local first responders and ambulance services for equipment and training.
Cass commissioners approved extending their contract with Northern Engineering and Consulting Inc. for county surveyor services through the end of 2016.
Terry Freeman will provide the services at $80 per hour, with the contract not to exceed $36,000. This is the same rate as 2015.
Health, Human and Veterans Services Department spent 82.05 percent of its 2015 budget after 83.33 percent of the year.
Out of home child placement costs have exceeded the full-year budget, running at 125 percent through the end of October. Cass County's share of those costs are at 135 percent of budget projections.
The county had 88 children in placements in October. Cass has spent a total of $1,925,972 on out of home placements through October.
Walker American Legion donated assorted wrapped gifts for seven needy families in the Walker, Hackensack and Onigum areas, to be distributed by Health, Human and Veterans Services.
The county board approved applying $189 in delinquent water bills to property taxes for a period from July 2014 through June 2015 on Shingobee Island property owned by Robin and Melinda Douvier.
The county administers that utility service district.
Cass is advertising to receive 2016 publishing and printing bids by Dec. 18 and expects to award contracts at the Jan. 5 regular board meeting in Walker.