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Cass County Board: Commissioners take board meetings on the road for the summer

Cass County in line to receive almost $6 million from American Rescue Plan Act Fund.

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Cass County Courthouse

BACKUS — Cass County commissioners have begun their annual “road show” meetings at various town halls around Cass County for the summer, with the first stop being at Loon Lake Township Hall.

Commissioner Scott Bruns joined the Tuesday, May 18, meeting via phone with all other commissioner’s present at the town hall.

The meeting began with some items being removed from the agenda and a few of the consent items being discussed further before being adopted. Board Chair Jeff Peterson questioned whether the approval of a contract for services with electrician Russel Wood was a new contract or just a renewal. County Administrator Josh Stevenson clarified this was a new contract as Wood is a licensed electrician and the county is required to have a licensed electrician sign off on all electrical work performed in the building. Stevenson also pointed out Wood is offering a considerably lower hourly rate for work performed and requested to enter into a contract so he would be guaranteed to perform the work.

Stevenson also shared with the board information regarding the American Rescue Plan Act Fund, from which the county would receive funding. On May 10, 2021 the U.S. Treasury launched the American Rescue Plan Act to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control,

  • Replace lost public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs,

  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses,

  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations.

Cass County would receive approximately $5.8 million from the federal legislation. Stevenson said the board had two options on how they could proceed with determining how to allocate the funds. The first option was to establish a separate committee of the board and the second option was having the full budget committee establish and determine funding priorities and how to best allocate the money. The categories of eligible uses the government has given as a guideline are:

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  • Support public health expenditures,

  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency,

  • Replace lost public sector revenue,

  • Provide premium pay for essential workers,

  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

The committee would then bring back their recommendations to the board. The board motioned and approved the second option of having the full budget committee’s recommendations on how to allocate the funds.
Peterson then opened the meeting for a public hearing in order to receive comments on the revocation of a portion of County State Aid Highway 17 right of way to Loon Lake Township. There were no public comments or objections. Therefore, the motion was approved.

In other business, the county board:

Established a committee of the board, with commissioners Peterson and Neal Gaalswyk nominated, to bring recommendation to the full board on the appointment of an Environmental Service Department deputy director.

Adopted a resolution establishing withholdings of the tax forfeited settlements to remain at 30% for reforestation and 20% for trails, which are the maximum funding percentages allowed by state statute.

Approved the acquisition of a parcel of land in Fairview Township from Darwin and Mary Cole for $69,900 plus closing costs in order to give summer access to surrounding tax forfeited land for forest management. This parcel will also provide public recreation during the summer.

The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 1 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker; commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 15 at Powers Township, 850 East Horseshoe Dr. NW, Backus; AMC District II meeting, 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 16 at Beltrami County Board Room, 701 Minnesota Ave. SW, Bemidji; and the annual planning work session, 9 a.m. Friday, June 25 at the Land Department meeting room in Backus.

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