Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff reports
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Funding Pine County roads discussed

 


A special committee of the whole meeting of the Pine County Board of Commissioners was held at Pokegama Town Hall on Tuesday, May 24, to kick off the annual roads tour. Discussion was held regarding local county road projects and funding options including bonding, sales tax and wheelage tax.

County Engineer Mark LeBrun stated a proposed $7.5 million bond for replacement of aging infrastructure is not possible with only the wheelage tax, which estimates $260,000 each year. He stated many of the locally funded county roads are in need of resurfacing or will be in the next five to 10 years. In addition, he stated funding from property taxes primarily covers staff, maintenance and equipment costs, but no new construction.

Options discussed to cover such a bond included raising wheelage tax to $15 or implementing a sales quarter or half-cent tax increase and removing the current wheelage tax of $10 per county vehicle.

“The positive thing about a sales tax,” stated LeBrun, “is that it includes people from outside the county.

“When deciphering what the Legislature did and did not do for us, we have to figure out how to do things ourselves,” stated District 1 Commissioner Steve Hallan. “If we are going to sit around and wait for them to do something for us, we will have more gray hair than we have now.”

“People expect county roads to be the same as state aid roads,” stated LeBrun. “We have to do something.”

District 4 Commissioner Kurt Rossow asked, “Would an increase in sales tax mean an increase in your department? Can you do with the staff you have?” LeBrun responded by saying they should be able to do the projects with the current staff.

LeBrun stated he will put together a highway improvement plan and estimate the sales tax revenue. Consensus of the board is that a 10-year bond would be best. More discussion will be held in July with a possible public hearing in August and decision made in September.

 

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