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

By Dan Reed 

In Carlton County, flood property losses to affect remaining tax base


Due to the Flash Flood of 2012, $3.1 million in property losses in Carlton County will impact the tax valuations and thus the tax levied in several of the townships and cities. All taxable property in Carlton County has a combined value of $2.6 billion. "With the property valuation loss of this magnitude, someone will have to pick up the difference," Marci Moreland, county assessor, commented. "The cities of Thomson, Barnum, and Moose Lake and the surrounding townships have been the hardest hit and the loss of taxable property will be more severe."

Moreland went on to explain at the Committee of the Whole meeting of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners on April 2 that the townships set their levy in March but do not report it to the county auditor until September. This would give townships time to reconvene if they have suffered considerable property losses and need to adjust their levies. This could be done at a special, advertised township meeting if so desired. Cities and the county have time to wrestle with the loss of taxable property valuation before the end of the year.

Carlton County has just completed buying a used vehicle for the assessor's office. Assessor Moreland explained that purchasing vehicles for county use saves money. At 33 cents per mile cost for a county vehicle, whereas reimbursement now for a private vehicle set at 56.5 cents per mile, the savings in the assessor's office duties is at about $34,000 per year.

Difficulties with the existing county phone system continue. A new system is coming to replace it. Land lines to the Transportation Building services have been particularly troublesome. If calls do not go through or callers get a busy signal, the public is asked to use a temporary cell phone number, which is (218) 390-8572.

Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee gave an overview of how government services must change and adapt to the retirement of the Baby Boomers. January 1, 2008, was the start of the boomer retirement wave. "The new normal for government will be," Lee explained, "more entitlement cost for the elderly and less revenue due to a shrinking work force."

Two thirds of the Minnesota state budget goes for K-12 education and human services. There is a need for new, creative ways to deliver needed services more efficiently. For example, Cook County has a contract with Carlton County to administer child support services for them.

Gary Peterson, 5th District commissioner, pressed for using a facilitator from the State Association of Counties to help set long term goals for Carlton County government. Cost would run $400 plus mileage for a facilitator. The proposal was passed to move it towards approval at the next regular board meeting.

"I have found this committee meeting very enlightening," commissioner Marv Bodie summed up. "We have not had a committee meeting since November, and I wish to have these scheduled regularly and have one department spotlighted for a presentation each time."

Auditor Paul Gassert remarked, "We have had these sessions set but they have been canceled."


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