County presents legislative testimony on bonding requestsSeveral county representatives traveled to the State Capitol in St. Paul this week to present testimony on behalf of Carlton County’s 2010 bonding requests.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Several county representatives traveled to the State Capitol in St. Paul this week to present testimony on behalf of Carlton County’s 2010 bonding requests.
In a report to the Carlton County Board this week, Mike Stafford, chair of the county facilities committee, reported that the county’s bonding requests have been incorporated into formal bills by both State Senator Tony Lourey and State Representative Bill Hilty.
A contingency from the county, comprised of Stafford, Commissioner Marv Bodie, Economic Development Director Pat Oman and Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee traveled to the Capitol on Tuesday to testify on behalf of the county’s requests, which include money for a new Community Services Building in Cloquet, a county business park just off Highway 210 and Old Highway 61, and Phase Two funding for the extension to the St. Louis River Trail System.
In other business to come before the board, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake requested approval for Chief Deputy Brian Belich to attend national conferences in New Orleans and San Diego as an invited speaker to make presentations on the county’s experience in managing last summer’s visit to the county by the Hells Angels. The entire cost of both conferences will be covered by the hosting organizations. Commissioners approved both requests.
Lake also requested the board’s approval to utilize state grant money to hire an outside vendor to develop a participation plan that would pave the way for Carlton County to sign on to the ARMER public safety communication system. The 800 MHz system would upgrade the current emergency communication systems to a more comprehensive and effective means of covering the entire county. Lake explained the participation plan will give the county a clear cut idea of the costs and requirements of upgrading to such a system, which is part of a state mandate for all counties to comply with new band width requirements. The board gave Lake approval to move ahead with contracting for the participation plan.
Stafford requested board approval for the 2010 compensation plan for non-represented county employees. Stafford explained that the budgeted 3 percent increase in salaries is equal to the amount already approved for employees represented by union bargaining units. The board endorsed the proposal.
Oman distributed copies of the proposed bylaws for the county’s newly established Economic Development Authority (EDA) and requested board approval. Board members raised questions regarding the composition of and qualifications for EDA board membership, and they voted to table final approval until further discussion can take place at next week’s meeting of the Committee of the Whole.
Oman also appealed to commissioners to consider application for an IRP loan which would provide 1 percent interest loan funding to the county that could then be loaned out for other purposes at a discretionary loan rate, which he explained would help create additional revenue streams for the county.
In a related matter, Oman also requested the board approve application for a USDA Revolving Loan Fund grant that would provide funding of up to $100,000 to create a revolving loan fund in the county. Oman explained that the current county economic loan fund is down to around $400,000 and needs to be augmented to fill the growing need for business loan funding within the county. Commissioners approved both proposals.
Carlton County Land Commissioner Greg Bernu told commissioners that the county was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Outdoor Heritage Council for the rehabilitation of trestles along the Soo Line Trail just outside of Moose Lake.
Bernu said the money will go toward replacing guard rails on the trestles with metal piping and chain link fencing and redecking the surface. The board unanimously endorsed acceptance of the grant.