The Crow Wing County Board agreed Tuesday, April 27, to move forward with a policy offering landfill cost rebates to organizations serving low-income people.

Commissioners initially tabled the idea April 13, asking land services staff to craft the policy in a way that would extend the offer to groups beyond those with official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Commissioner Doug Houge offered the example of an informal group in Crosby distributing food to those in need, that despite meeting criteria in other ways, was not eligible for a rebate.

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The policy — which the board approved for a one-year trial period in 2019 — allows organizations with a Crow Wing County location serving low-income individuals with free or reduced price goods to apply for up to a $1,000 rebate for disposing of items at the landfill.

During the trial period, $1,000 was returned to one organization — Salem WEST, a Deerwood-based organization providing household goods and clothing to area families in need.

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Instead of proof of a 501(c)(3) designation, the updated policy draft requires a completed application including the submission of a mission statement, stating the type of community outreach the organization provides. Land Services Director Gary Griffin told the board Tuesday the program would be capped at $5,000 during 2021 and the county board would have the opportunity to reconsider it in January.

Commissioner Bill Brekken asked Griffin how organizations would be made aware of the county’s program. Griffin replied the department could send letters to organizations that may qualify, adding he believed seven to eight letters were sent in 2019.

Commissioner Paul Koering asked whether the county would still be responsible for taxes associated with the items disposed of as part of the rebate program. Griffin replied it would be, noting a 17% charge by the state for the Greater Minnesota Landfill Cleanup Fee on everything thrown in the landfill.

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“Regardless if we’re giving something away free, nothing’s really free,” Koering responded. “We’re still having to pay that. Even if we have a road ditch pickup program, and that garbage is picked up by volunteers and it’s brought in, that’s still got to be accounted for and we have to pay the tax on that.”

Houge said he liked the revisions made by land services.

“This new policy, or a little bit revised, opens up the original policy to allow some of these smaller, maybe not as organized groups, that are trying to help the community save some costs on their efforts,” Houge said. “So I like that addition to it.”

The board unanimously agreed to establish the new policy.

In other business, the county board:

Agreed to support a grant application by the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office to apply for funds from Sourcewell to support building up the existing drone program. A request for board action noted the funds could be used to update physical equipment, update mapping software or purchasing a tether system.

Authorized entering a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division for additional grant funding in the amount of $20,821. The funding is part of a supplemental grant awarded because of COVID-19. Crow Wing County Emergency Manager John Bowen explained although the grant requires matching funds, the county already paid out those funds last year and was able to use money received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Approved transfers of money from the First and Second assessment districts funds to the Highway Fund to cover costs incurred for administration, maintenance and construction in those unorganized townships in 2020. For the First Assessment District, the total was $87,994.81. For the Second Assessment District, the total was $9,290.97.

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Because these areas of the county do not have organized township or city governments, the county board acts as the township boards. Spending on township level roads cannot, however, be funded from the county’s coffers as a whole, but must instead come directly from taxpayers living in those areas.

Approved a transfer of $1,429.44 from the Ditch 13 Fund to the Highway Fund to cover costs of labor, equipment and other expenditures associated with authorized maintenance on the ditch during 2020.

Approved 2021 snowmobile and non-motorized trail permit renewals for the following organizations: Northland Arboretum, Brainerd Snodeos, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, Emily-Outing Snowbirds, Fort Ripley Trail Busters, Gull Lake Drifters, Ideal Sno Pros, Merrifield Marathons, Ruffed Grouse Society and the Baxter Snowmobile Club.

Accepted the resignation of Michael Dubay from the Crow Wing County Transportation Advisory Committee.

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Reappointed John Taylor as the city of Deerwood representative on the Serpent Lake Sanitary Sewer District Board of Directors for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2024. The board also appointed Jim Traylor to replace Buzz Neprud on the board representing the city of Crosby for a term of the same length.

Approved the hiring of Ashlee Novotny, corrections officer in the jail.

Approved the promotion of Jessica Schwimmer to 911 communications officer.

Accepted the departures of Amy Getty, accounting technician; Keith Wasserzieher, highway maintenance specialist; Miranda Van Santen, corrections officer; and Teressa Pickar, business manager in community services. The board also approved replacement staffing for each of these positions.



CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey.