By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

County-wide sales tax approved


As expected, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved a ½ percent sales tax increase for all sales taxes collected in Carlton County. It is thought that with notification to the State of Minnesota the sales tax increase will begin sometime in April.

To explain this another way, ½ percent sales tax on a $10 purchase would equal a nickel of added tax. It is estimated this sales tax will bring $1 million a year to be dedicated to county roads not funded currently by State Highway Aid.

"This money would make it possible to repair 13 county roads over the next four to five years," explained Mike Tardy, Carlton County highway engineer. "This is a legal contract between the board and the people of Carlton County. As the taxpayers see the results of these additional funds, public support will grow so that in coming years other needed unfunded road repairs can be added to the list when this work is done."

As one of the four commissioners voting for this tax (with Commissioner Bob Olean absent), Commissioner Gary Peterson said, "I don't know how many road repair questions I get bombarded with as I get input from county residents. There are many miles of county road in terrible shape without any funding up to this point except property taxes. Now we can do the work with this sales tax income. Travelers, recreational people, and seasonal residents will all have to share the cost of needed road repairs. It seems the fairest way to go."

Cloquet animal shelter

makes plea for help

At the December 9 regular county board meeting, Cindy Haglin, director of the Friends of Animals Human Society, requested $55,000 for county support of the animal shelter and foster program housed in Cloquet.

"Animal shelters are required by law," Haglin said. "We have about a $300,000 budget and most of the money comes from donations. An extra $83,000 came in because of all the media attention our program has had of late, but we cannot depend on that. It has been nerve-wracking these last few months to have our cash reserves go down to almost nothing. We need extra help."

There was a group of about 30 people in the audience for support. It was noted, however, some have come from Superior, Wisconsin, to show their support for the Cloquet shelter program. Bob Atkins, funeral director of Atkins-Northland Funeral Home and a member on the Friends of Animals board of directors, commented, "We are struggling to keep the shelter open. There has been a sharp increase of the use of volunteers for help. The shelter has struggled for money for years ­— budgeting like a fire drill throughout the year."

The shelter remains almost full most of the year. It has a no kill policy.

Commissioner Tom Proulx of Cloquet stated he would support the $55,000 number to help the shelter. Chairman Dick Brenner said, and the rest of the board nodded in agreement, that the county board should give $13,500 for the first three months and then see where the shelter's finances are after that period. More discussions to follow.

Other business

In other business, Marci Moreland, county assessor, has led a push to have a computer program called Pictometry available for certain departments in county government. Especially useful for assessing, zoning and planning, and public safety, this program can see areas of the county in three-dimension, made possible by a plane flying over the county in April to take pictures in timed intervals. These are then adapted to a computer program.

After extensive discussion the board approved a six-year contract with Pictometry with periodic evaluation of the use and need of this service. Six years will cost $197,000. The county could receive income to offset the cost by selling 50 available passwords to the program, ranging from $500 to $1,500 per password. It was reported that Enbridge would buy some of the available passwords.

Kennecott Exploration will be drilling for copper-nickel and other mineable minerals in western Carlton County this winter. Section 6 in Automba Township and Section 20 in Lakeview Township are permitted for drilling.

The Carlton County timber auction netted $159,020.50. Timber averaged $25/cord while in the latest Aitkin County timber sale the price was $36/cord.


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