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New Cass commissioner sworn in

WALKER -- Judge David Harrington swore into office Tuesday newly elected Cass County Commissioner Scott Bruns, who replaced retired commissioner Jim Dowson.

WALKER - Judge David Harrington swore into office Tuesday newly elected Cass County Commissioner Scott Bruns, who replaced retired commissioner Jim Dowson.

Also taking their oath of office were re-elected officials County Attorney Christopher Strandlie, Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk and Recorder Kathryn "Katie" Norby.

The county board convened its first meeting of 2015 by electing Neal Gaalswyk chair and Jeff Peterson vice chair.

The board accepted the lowest bid of three from Walker Pilot-Independent for publishing all county legal notices except the second financial statement. Cass Lake Times was the lowest bidder and contract winner for that.

Cass County will pay the Internal Revenue Service mileage rate of 57.5 cents per mile in 2015, but employees will only receive 28 cents per mile mileage if there is a county car available for their use and they choose instead to drive their own vehicle.

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Cass employees cannot collect reimbursement for expenses other than mileage for their activities inside the county. Outside the county, they can claim expenses such as meals to a maximum of $20 per day.

When an overnight stay occurs, employees can claim up to $46 per day expenses for most locations. Reimbursement increases to $51 for expenses incurred in Olmstead County, $56 per day in Dakota and St. Louis Counties and $71 per day in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.

Itemized receipts are required. Mileage and incidental expense payments are subject to employee withholding taxes.

The commissioners approved paying Cass County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) $2,900 in 2015 to cover per diems and mileage for five HRA board members to attend their regular meetings.

The board approved county board their rules of business. They made no change from the existing policy.

Board members authorized the board chair and sheriff to sign an agreement to continue a contract for the sheriff to provide law enforcement services in the city of Cass Lake for the next five years, with cost to be determined annually. It may be renewed in five year increments.

Cass Lake's cost for three deputies assigned to the city, their vehicles, gas for the vehicles, overtime and administrative expenses will not exceed $253,000 in 2015 under the agreement terms.

Kevin Dahlman, assistant land commissioner, obtained board approval to change the county policy on extending timber sales.

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The land department, with county board approval, has waived timber sales requirement for payment in full on extensions due to weather-related issues the last four years, Dahlman reminded the board. The new policy will not allow waiving the payment in full, but will lower extension fee requirements.

Under the new policy, any new timber sale will give the logger two years to cut the sale. On the third year, the logger may apply for an extension and pay related fees. On the fourth year, the contract can be extended only by paying the balance of full payment. No sales will be extended beyond four years.

The net will cost loggers slightly less than current policy after four years, but will mean they have to pay the full amount to the county sooner.

The commissioners approved paying the budgeted $5,000 contribution to Pine River Agricultural Association (Fair Board) toward operations for the 2015 county fair at Pine River.

They approved 2015 committee appointments, but still are seeking applicants for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority who live in commissioner District 4 (Walker area).

They closed the meeting at the end of regular business to discuss 2015 employee salary negotiations. No board action was taken following the closed session.

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