Cass County Board: Commissioners take their meetings on the road for township sessions

The first stop for the season was Tuesday, May 16, at Otter Tail Peninsula Township on the north side of Leech Lake, with many residents in attendance.

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Brainerd Dispatch

OTTER TAIL PENINSULA TOWNSHIP — The weather is getting nicer and the days are getting longer, which means it is time for the county commissioners to begin their annual “Road Show” tour.

The first stop for the season was Tuesday, May 16, at Otter Tail Peninsula Township on the north side of Leech Lake with many residents in attendance.

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane presented a financial update for 2022. She said the audit has begun and will be in full swing in the coming weeks, with the majority of it being done remotely again. Some of the highlights Norikane noted were the overall decrease in the fund balance; the Health, Human and Veterans Services department ending with an additional $1.9 million to their fund balance; and the higher expenses in the self-funded insurance fund.

Norikane said the majority of the decrease in the fund balance is due to the roof repairs made at Deep Portage and the reimbursement from Deep Portage will be acquired over several future years. Typically, Norikane said she recommends the board approve a transfer from the Health, Human and Veterans Services fund balance to the capital improvement plan, but with the Pine River Household Hazardous Waste Campus remaining on hold there was no recommendation to transfer funds. However, if grant funding is received and project costs are agreed upon there may be a request to transfer funds.

A request was made for the board to adjust the self insurance fund account from the original budgeted amount of $4,807,000 to $5,025,000. Norikane said currently the county is requiring all employees to carry the offered health insurance through the county. Therefore, many employees are choosing the single policy rather than the family policy, which was anticipated. A committee is meeting to discuss options and a recommendation may come at a later date to not require all employees to carry the county health insurance, or even change the contributions from the county for health care premiums. A motion was made by commissioner Bob Kangas, with commissioner Neal Gaalswyk seconding, to adjust the budgeted expenses for the Self Insurance Fund to $5,025,000 with all members approving.


The board also adopted a resolution establishing the percentage for withholding land for reforestation and trails prior to the tax-forfeit distribution in the amount of 15% for reforestation and 20% for trails. This is a decrease in the distributed amount for reforestation due to the decrease in tax-forfeited land inventory available for public auction. Norikane said in discussion with the land commissioner, it was recommended a decrease be made for reforestation while the amount given to trails remained the same to offset the decrease and continue to cover the trail maintenance costs currently being incurred.

In other business, the county board:

Heard from Paul Putzier and Scott Pearson, with the Department of Natural Resources, about an update on the DNR Groundwater Atlas program.

Approved modifications to the tarp retention system and installing wind deflectors to the county-owned solid waste trailers to prevent tarp degradation and garbage blowing out onto the roadways. The estimated cost is $2,500 per trailer and the county owns five trailers, however the department will begin with one trailer at a time.

Heard from a concerned resident of Otter Tail Peninsula Township regarding Ni Gig Trail Northwest and the possibility of an impassable road complaint hearing with the Cass County Board of Commissioners pending a response from the township board.

Heard from County Engineer Darrick Anderson regarding a request to vacate the public right of way of Ottertail Point Drive Northwest, south of the intersection of Ottertail Point Drive Northwest and Ni Gig Trail Northwest.

The next meetings are as follows: commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. June 6 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker; AMC District 2 Meeting 8 a.m. June 14 at Beltrami County boardroom, 701 Minnesota Ave. NW, Suite 102, Bemidji; annual planning work session 9 a.m. June 16 at the Land Department meeting room in Backus; and commissioner’s board meeting 6 p.m. June 20 at Sylvan Township, 12956 24th Ave. SW, Pillager.

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