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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Primary election costs Carlton County over $50,000


February 7, 2019

“Why do the costs for a special primary and special election fall solely on the local Counties and townships involved?” asked Carlton County Gary Peterson at the Adjourned Session of the County Board on January 28th. “The State of Minnesota should cover the costs. This expenditure is unexpected.”

Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert explained, “Overtime because of the holiday, regular wages, printing costs, and postage led to costs for the County of upwards of $50,000. Preparation for an election takes months of planning. This election cycle will be completed in less than 35 days. And, of course, the special election is just in one week – February 5 and will be costly again.”

Commissioner Peterson continued, “The townships and cities are hit hard also. They pay if they have mail in ballots and jurisdictions that have precinct voting have four judges to pay. I hope we can lobby the Legislature to cover this expense through our Association of Municipalities and Counties (AMC) this Legislative session.”

Gassert said that mail in ballots for the primary election did not go out quickly to the voters and were not returned to the Courthouse on time. Not enough time was given for a Special election primary to fill the Senate seat vacated by Tony Lourey when he was appointed Minnesota’s Commissioner for Health and Human Resources. Reorganization of the US Postal System in Minnesota has slowed mail delivery to three to five days.

Gassert explained that over 2,100 mail in ballots were sent out and only 450 came back of which more than 100 were spoiled. Voting twice for one office is not allowed. As of the January 28th Board meeting more than 350 mail in ballots have come back to the Courthouse past election day and will not be counted. Unofficial reports in the area state that some mail in ballots had not been delivered to the requesting voter until the Saturday before election day with a holiday occurring that Monday. Hand delivery to the Courthouse was the only option.

Vaping, or basing as it is also known as, by the youth of our County was brought up again for discussion by Commissioner Peterson. Use has been increasing dramatically each year in our area. Consideration centered on setting a County ordinance whereby the legal age to purchase vaping materials, commonly sold in businesses selling tobacco products, from 18 to 21.

Commissioner Thell said, “The age has been raised from 18 to 21 for the purchase of vaping products in five Minnesota Counties. Some action has been taken.”

No action was taken at the County Board meeting.

Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee added in discussions after the meeting, “The problem is exploding. Medical people are starting to realize that vaping use in younger children interferes with lung development. Raising the age will not eliminate vaping use but it will discourage some of the younger children from accessing it.”

Economic Development Director Connie Christensen is retiring. In the short term the Economic Development department will be overseen by the Auditor the Board decided. The job description and duties of the new Economic Development Director will be discussed before a permanent solution is found.

The Moose Lake Area Historical Society is seeking funding for a Research and Educational wing on their current facility. A proposal will be submitted to the Minnesota Legislature to be included in a State Bonding bill. The Carlton County Board unanimously gave their support for the project. Other funding sources are being considered for computer equipment and a software package to handle archiving and programming. Furniture for work stations and an in house classroom also need a funding source.

Lakes and Pines gave an overview report on this last year’s impact on Carlton County services. Of interest: Energy Assistance (Oct. 1 – present) –

Primary heat for 935 households: $642,012

Crisis help for 297 households: $128,247

Emergency repair for 66 households: $138,176

Head Start services: 62 families

Homes Weatherized for 15 homes: $100,500

Homes Weatherized by CIP – 6 homes: $40,200


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