By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

County sells bonds for garage in Barnum


March 19, 2020

Construction bonds for the remodel and new addition to the Carlton County Transportation Garage in Barnum were sold on March 9 at an unexpected low rate of 1.69%. Three bond packages had been submitted and the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at their Regular Meeting on March 10 selected about a $9.5 million proposal for 20 years.

County Coordinator Dennis Genereau via phone noted that the original plans anticipated a rate of about 2% which would have made the yearly bond payment about $615,000. Now, the payment will come in probably around $585,000. At this level over the 20 year life of the bonds there will be a savings on interest of between $600,000-800,000.

“This means that less money will be used out of the ½% sales tax to cover the bond payment,” observed Genereau. “Rural residents have voiced concern that using sales tax money will curtail some of the rural road upgrades needed. This will free up more money for those road projects.”

Director Brad Matlock and Russ Kurhajetz of the Soil and Water Conservation District approached the County Board for support for a three year pilot program, authorized by the State Legislature, for a SWCD levy authority in Carlton and Pine Counties to raise an additional $38,000 for conservation work in the area. This would add to the $152,000 that comes from the Carlton County general levy.

Matlock said that such additional funding would be used to leverage even more available program money. Commissioner Gary Peterson hoped that this additional funding source would not cause other funding to dry up.

Long time SWCD board member Commissioner Mark Thell commented, “The program our SWCD provides is a gold standard for their work on the environment. Let’s support this initiative to provide more money for the good job they are doing.” Support for this legislation was unanimous.

Drug Court Judge Rebekka Stumme addressed the County Board on the value of the Drug Court and that a replacement case manager be hired as a half time position. The money for that position is currently in the budget and approval was given.

Commissioner Tom Proulx stated, “A half time position is not enough for the work load and it should be a full time position. I am not usually in favor of adding more staff but in this case there is a great need.”

Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee said that a case worker would probably be found in the current staff with ½ time for Drug Court and ½ time with HHS.

In other County news, Zoning and Environmental Services Administrator Heather Cunningham gave her annual report in which it was noted that new construction was coming in at the same level as 2018. She said that a building or tent is being considered for the Transfer Station to be used for articles that come in that may be reused by other residents in the community rather than sent to the landfill. Used bicycles and lawn furniture were given as examples if they were in good shape.

The DNR has sent notice that they are moving from their current site in Cloquet on Hwy 33 south of Walmart. They have arranged to move into part of the lumberyard property in the Cloquet Business Park north of town. The future of the old DNR Forestry and Game Management building has not been decided.


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