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Cass County Board: Commissioners approve 5.06% preliminary levy increase

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Brainerd Dispatch
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WALKER — Cass County commissioners approved a preliminary tax levy increase of 5.06% above the 2022 levy at the Tuesday, Sept. 6, County Board meeting, which was lower than the department head-requested 6.97% increase.

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane informed the board one of the requests came from Longville Ambulance with an increase of $131,000 annually, the first increase requested since 2017. Other departmental requests represented an increase of $9,510,827 over the 2022 budget, however, the budget committee reduced the increase to $1,219,809.

The committee reduced the amount in part by utilizing $125,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the county’s general fund salary effort, by levying 95% of salaries and benefits and reducing equipment purchases for items with other potential funding sources.

Another issue of which Norikane informed the board was the impact of net tax capacity with the increases on residential and commercial taxable market values. For residents who previously qualified for the residential homestead credit and whose market value increased to over $413,800 — which is the maximum in state law — the homestead credit is eliminated. Also, if the market value is greater than $500,000, the property falls into a higher class rate used to determine its net tax capacity.

The budget committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7 to meet with department heads in an effort to continue lowering 2023 budget requests.

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Board Chair Bob Kangas then opened a public hearing on the regulation of golf cart usage on city and county roads within Lake Shore. There was no one in attendance and County Administrator Josh Stevenson said no written comments were received.

Stevenson addressed a concern brought up during a previous meeting regarding the age of the operator of golf carts. Stevenson pointed out within the proposed ordinance, it stated all operators must have a valid driver’s license or must be 15 years old with a learner’s permit and must be accompanied by a licensed operator over the age of 18. The public hearing was then closed, with the second reading and final adoption for the ordinance set for the Sept. 20 meeting.

In other business, the county board:

Adopted a resolution approving a Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission grant application for Phase 3 of the Gull Lake Trail, and agreed Cass County would be the fiscal agent for legal purposes for the application to be considered.

Received an update on the petition of dissolution of Lima Township. Enough signatures were received on the petition and a special election with the ballot question will be Nov. 8 with the general election.

Received an update on the petition for annexation by ordinance for the city of Bena.

Awarded a contract to Bolton & Menk Inc. for the final design and construction administration for County Highway 70, using 80% federal funds and 20% state aid funds.

Awarded a contract in Houle Excavating, in the amount of $283,619, for a project on Longwood Point Road Northeast in Crooked Lake Township and the replacement of a bridge.

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The next meetings are as follows: 9/11 Observance, 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Veterans Podium on the courthouse lawn in Walker; commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. Sept. 20, Boy River City Hall, 112 Main St. S., Boy River, and commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. Oct. 4, boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker.

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