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

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Carlton County talks Tobacco 21 ordinance with Moose Lake


August 22, 2019

Meghann Levitt of Carlton County Public Health and Human Services met with the Moose Lake city council to give information about the new ordinance, Tobacco 21, that is being written to raise the age for purchasing tobacco product from 18 to 21, at the meeting of the council on Wednesday, August 14.

“The Public Health Law Center is helping us to put this ordinance together,” she said. “It will also address Juuling and vaping. If the legal age to purchase tobacco products is raised, studies show that there is a 25 percent reduction in when young people start smoking, resulting in fewer deaths from lung diseases. It will also reduce the number of 18-year-olds in high school who buy tobacco products for their friends. This is all under SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program).”

The council discussed the assessment policy that was presented. The council had delayed a decision about adopting the assessment policy at the July meeting. The policy lays out the expenses of water and sewer line replacements and what would be charged the adjoining property owners that would benefit from the projects.

“The biggest thing with the assessment policy is that there is a gap in financial funding,” said City Administrator Tim Peterson. “We can play with the length of time that the assessment has to be paid back.”

Mayor Ted Shaw said that, in talking with community members, he said that there is another option, to levy for a percentage increase on the taxes to pay for the projects.

“Everyone uses the road,” he said. “We could put that amount aside in a restricted account. To do that, we need to amend the assessment policy.”

“We would need to levy each year,” answered Peterson. “We would have to know the amount to levy for each year. The money would be put in a fund and the project paid for from the fund. When the project is paid for, that balance in the fund goes back to zero.”

Peterson added that, if $100,000 needed to be raised and placed in a restricted fund, the levy would be 5 percent.

“That would be better than people being hit with $50 to $100 a month assessments,” said Shaw. “It could be $60 a year instead. We need to look at the levy or do nothing.”

A decision needs to be made by next month, said Peterson.

Councilor Kris Huso said once again that she could not support the assessment policy.

Councilor Walt Lower was concerned at the rise in taxes.

“Carlton County is looking at a new jail,” he said. “I don’t see the state decreasing spending. If they do increase taxes, that will make raising taxes in Moose Lake more difficult for me.”

Carlton County Commissioner Gary Peterson was at the meeting and said that raising the sales tax by 1 percent is the plan to raise the funds for the new jail.

“We have to go to the legislature before we can get approval to raise the sales tax,” he said. “The property taxes are already too high in the county. For the Barnum county garage, they are planning on raising the wheelage tax and taking some from the existing county sales tax. They plan to do that until the county garage in Barnum is paid for in 15 or 20 years.”

The next item of discussion was replacing the city’s wells and building a new wellhouse.

Tim Peterson told the council that there are plans to either remodel the existing wellhouse by the park or build a new one when the well project gets underway next year.

“A new wellhouse would be approximately 30 by 30 feet and look pretty nice,” he said. “We could purchase a parcel of land from the owners of the old school for the new wellhouse.”

His suggestion was supported by the councilors.

Peterson also spoke about expanding the new building next to the depot with an addition. The city owns the land and buildings but the historical society operates the museum and Soo Line Event Center.

The proposed addition would be attached on the south end of the event center and be used for storage and research, he said.

“The historical society wants 100 percent funding from the state,” said Peterson. “They are going to be working with the county’s Economic Development Director Mary Finnigan. The city would administer the funding for the project.”

Peterson added that historical society representatives would bring a presentation to the council at a future meeting.

The council agreed by consensus to proceed with the plans.

In other business, the council approved a quote from Region Electric to replace an air handling unit in the amount of $6,867 plus $1,500 for an economizer.

The next meeting of the council was set for Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 4 p.m.


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