County sales tax road projects approved

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     The “bituminous preservation” projects include work on Co. Rd. 81 from north of Highway 34 to Essex Road; on Co. Rd. 109 from CSAH 6 to Co. Rd. 108 and Beacon Road from CASH 6 to 109 and on Co. Rd. 111 from Highway 87 to 1.2 miles south.

     The .5 percent sales tax took effect in July at the commissioners’ approval.  The sales tax of 6.875 percent was raised to 7.375 percent in the county.

     Hubbard County auditor Kay Rave reports as of the end of February, the county has received $517,199 in tax revenue and is on track to meet Department of Revenue projections of $900,000 in the first full year its of implementation.

     In other action, commissioners:

    - Agreed to explore a contract with Mahnomen County to house 30 inmates per day at $65 each.

     Sheriff Cory Aukes presented the proposal which he estimates will bring in $711,750 per year in revenue, with expenses projected at $278,885 a year.

      Mahnomen County is asking for a two-year contract, Aukes said, but he’s asking for a four-year commitment.

     The department would hire four additional full-time staff, at a cost of $260,000 per year, based on $65,000 each, including family medical.

     Meals for the additional inmates are estimated at $82,865 per year. Additional medical expenses are projected at $90,000 and miscellaneous supplies, “a one-time expense,” $5,000.

     The current 60-bed facility would go to 90 beds, Aukes said of “full capacity.” Hubbard County could tell Mahnomen County “no” at 30, he said. The county’s general inmate population is 40, Aukes told commissioner, a few of them  state prisoners.

     “The biggest question now is duration,” Aukes said of having to possibly lay off personnel. “We are looking at a minimum of four years.”

     “The problem is if there’s a changing of the guard,” commissioner Cal Johannsen said of a new sheriff.

     Aukes advocated entering into a contract with Mahnomen County, not the sheriff’s department.

     “The worst case scenario is having to pay unemployment,” commissioner Matt Dotta said, who suggested further discussion on the matter in the work session.

    - Approved a request from Rural Minnesota CEP (Concentrated Employment Program) to use a first-floor government center room to meet with people who are seeking jobs.

     Rural MN CEP will utilize room 149 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to work with veterans, ex-offenders, youth and people with disabilities to “explore career opportunities,” as an “ancillary benefit of Social Services.”

     The program helps people move off public assistance to self-sufficiency through employment, explained Caroline Rogers of Rural MN CEP. This includes counseling on life skills and job readiness.

     Workshops are offered on the job search system - skills identification, applications, networking and interviewing, as well as the follow-up thank you letter.             

- Heard AIS program transition update recommendations from Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf  and adopted a resolution “clarifying fiscal roles and procedures for  aquatic invasive species prevention.”

     The main issue is the expenditures transition, Buitenwerf told the board, recommending the county act as fiscal agent via the auditor/treasurer and the AIS watercraft decontamination position be managed within the ES Department.

     The resolution calls for all state AIS prevention fund expenditures, with approximately $225,000 allocated by the state, be preauthorized by the ESO.

     The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations will “continue to do the legwork, but with preauthorization.”

     Buitenwerf suggested hold harmless agreements be drafted regarding watercraft inspections conducted at 13 public township accesses.

     He questioned the county’s liability regarding volunteers conducting AIS sampling.

     Commissioners directed ESO to draft a document outlining the role of the Soil and Water Conservation District during the transition period.

     - Approved the demolition of an existing slab at Farris Park in Farden Township and the construction of a brick storage and restroom facility at a cost of $60,210, Jeff Olson Construction of  Bemidji the low bidder.  

     Commissioners also approved a quote of $35,600 from Heritage Construction of Bemidji for the construction of an additional picnic shelter at the park.

    - Learned spring road restrictions will likely soon go into effect, commissioners approving a resolution addressing the issue.

   - Approved a resolution nullifying a contract for deed due to no payments being made on property in White Oak Township.