The Carlton County Board approved $5,000 worth of architectural work for a new Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Agricultural Extension building at the Transportation Building site at its December 11 board meeting.
"I'm at a loss," Chairman Ted Pihlman started off the responses, "I thought this building was on hold."
Jim Nynas, SWCD board member, explained, "This is the second phase of a process of procuring a USDA loan for this $1,500,000 building. This has been a two-year process and we now need an architect to put together a building proposal. Along with this we need a letter of intent that land will be made available for the building if the loan is approved."
"I wish we had more time to think about this," Pihlman responded.
"We are now in second place on the list for approval of funding," continued Nynas. "We are competing against other agencies for funding with limited dollars." The board voted to move forward unanimously.
An annual Truth in Taxation hearing was held after the board meeting to discuss the new levy needs for county operations in the new fiscal year. Chairman Pihlman explained, "This hearing is to discuss how the county will spend your money in the 2013 Fiscal Year."
The original proposed levy was an increase of 6.31 percent. After extensive talks, the increase has been shaved to 3.1 percent with a finalization of the levy amount decided at the December 26 meeting.
Increased concern for security at the courthouse has been discussed for some time. More security cameras are being installed. A new proposal centers on a new full-time deputy to handle the day-to-day security at the courthouse at increased cost.
Dennis Genereau, Carlton County Coordinator, commented, "I chair the Budget Committee now as part of my coordinator duties. I have worked in other county systems. I have been surprised how well department budgets are handled by department heads. I have confidence in their ability to keep costs as low as possible and yet not hurt the services we provide."
In other business, Commissioner Thomas Proulx said that talks are continuing about seeing the Bentleyville Christmas light experience back in Carlton County. Promoters of the Duluth venue have been disenchanted with problems at the Bayfront location.
Commissioner Pihlman asked his fellow board members to support a Human Services program continuing in Moose Lake even though the Moose Lake School District is making plans to sell the building now used for the program. He also spoke for support of the county's private snowplowing program. "We need to continue this program which helps the disabled and elderly stay in their homes as long as possible. They deserve our help."
Monty Lundberg, Building Maintenance, presented a $13,584 Minnesota Power Energy Grant to the board for continued work on making county buildings as energy efficient as possible.