Carlton County takes its turn to determine whether the current PLA (Project Labor Agreement) in force for County construction projects should be dropped or amended. The Cloquet City Council just completed an intense discussion followed by a council vote first to drop the PLA for city projects but then reinstating the PLA.
The PLA calls for a public construction project be completed by workers that are paid the prevailing wage of the area. That wage scale is traditionally set by union negotiations in the different trades. Projects affected by the PLA are ones that cost more than $175,000 put out for bids by the County.
The County Board of Commissioners at their Regular meeting on June 8 unanimously approved a plan offered by the County Highway Engineer JinYeene Neumann to form a task force to study the issue. Neumann said there were three options to be considered:
1. Eliminate the PLA,
2. Increase the minimum requiring a PLA,
3. Or allow PLA’s not be allowed on Federally funded projects.
Neumann explained that the current system of bidding restrictions increases the cost of construction projects, some contractors will not bid on a project that has a prevailing wage, projects using Federal funding take an extra six months for needed approval, to name a few.
Commissioner Marv Bodie responded at a Committee of the Whole meeting on June 1, “Workers with good union jobs build homes here, buy groceries in our local stores, use our local service industries, and pay property taxes and sales taxes. A prosperous local labor force is good for our economy.”
The task force is made up of two Commissioners, County Engineer/Assistant County Engineer, County Coordinator, Economic Development Director, County Attorney representative, and two Labor union representatives. Chairman Tom Proulx and Commissioner Dick Brenner were appointed the County Board’s participants. The current County Board resolution on the PLA dates back to November 12, 2013.
Intense study continues for a possible justice center/jail complex at the forested area north of the County Transportation Building. County Highway Engineer Neumann received permission to hire SRF consultants to evaluate the intersection of TH 210 and CSAH 61 at the Carlton Junction and recommend a possible solution for traffic congestion and anticipated increased traffic with new county construction plans. Neumann said that the consultant was hired to expedite the needed information and costs rather than waiting for the DOT which can take several months.
A closed session at the County Board meeting was called to make an offer on the possible sale of the old Carlton High School. County Coordinator Dennis Genereau explained, “The green site north of the Transportation Building is our preferred site for construction of the jail. But, we should have a backup plan. Although probably much more costly, construction of a justice center at the present Courthouse would need some of the land now owned by the Carlton School District.”
In other County news:
Wood City Riders is sponsored by Carlton County for construction, maintenance, and seasonal operation of snowmobile Grant-in aid trails in both Carlton and St. Louis Counties. The MN DOT will only give a limited use permit for Snowmobile/ATV trails within highway right of ways to a local unit of government. Carlton County is asking for a permit to use the west side of MN 33 in Cloquet from the Big Lake Road to Gillette Road.
Carlton County accepted $610,000 from the MN DOT for a multi-use trail from the Moose Lake School area down CSAH 10 to Highway 73 and down to CASH 61. Carlton County will provide engineering and other costs.
Carlton County Transportation continues to phase out private driveway snow plowing. Service will be offered this fall to those that were on the list last season. Only 20 to 25 homes are on the list at this point.
The County Transportation Department was given permission to increase permit fees starting in July 1.
Utility permits will rise to $200 with a $1000 deposit or $5000 bond.
Special event permits will now be $100.
Driveway permits have been $50 with $200 deposit and now will be $100 with a $500 deposit.
Moving permits will now be $25/trip or $200/annual. Overweight will go to $50/single trip ranging to $500 annual> 97,000# and 7 axles.
A request for repurchase of tax forfeited land in Kettle River known as Out on a Limb by Kenneth Kasden was tabled until the County Attorney has studied any legal issues. The property forfeited to the State of Minnesota on December 22, 2020 for delinquent taxes for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Kasden has asked the County Board on June 2 to let him buy back the commercial property for $29,972.25 in delinquent taxes and assessments.