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County sorts out expenses for 2009

With an estimated county expense budget of $42,197,566 in the year ahead and an anticipated revenue budget of $22,399,591, Carlton County Commissioners made some end-of-year decisions at their adjourned session last week.

With an estimated county expense budget of $42,197,566 in the year ahead and an anticipated revenue budget of $22,399,591, Carlton County Commissioners made some end-of-year decisions at their adjourned session last week.

With a fund balance of $342,345, the board approved a 2009 levy of $19,455,630 to make up the difference.

Board members voted to hold the line on pay increases, per diem rates and meal reimbursements for themselves and non-commissioner posts as well for 2009.

Mileage reimbursements, which follow federal guidelines, will actually go down from 58 cents a mile in 2008 to 55 cents a mile in 2009. Per diem payments are currently set at $50 for both in-county and out-of-county meetings, with the exception of members of the board of adjustment, who receive $65. The annual salary for county commissioners is $21,599.

Commissioners voted unanimously to increase the salaries of other elected officials, including the county attorney, sheriff and auditor, by 3 percent in 2009. The county attorney's annual salary is $99,910; the auditor/treasurer's is set at $85,107; and the sheriff's salary is $87,550.

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In other end-of-year business to come before the board, William Hayden was reappointed as county surveyor, and the board agreed to set the level of support for the county's share of the University of Minnesota Extension Service at $165,105.

The board approved the year-end distribution of tax-forfeit funds in an amount of up to $75,000 to the county revenue fund, with 20 percent of remaining receipts going to parks and recreation, 30 percent set aside for timber development and any balance remaining apportioned in the amount of 40 percent to the county, 20 percent to cities and towns and 40 percent to school districts.

Commissioners set the tax levy to meet Carlton County's share of approved expenditures for social services, income maintenance and nursing services for 2009 at $4,748,190. The levies for the year 2009 for the county's unorganized townships, to cover the cost of such things as fire protection, cemetery, road and bridge and ambulance expenses, were approved, and the respective budgets were established.

Three County Veterans Service Office Project Grants from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs were authorized by the board. The grants totaled $26,682 and will go toward providing staff management training as well as marketing information within the Carlton County Veterans Service office, according to Veterans Service Officer Duane Brownie.

Commissioners approved a request to increase the current part time position of economic development specialist to full time.

Finally, the board and other county department heads honored Commissioner Mel Tan as he steps down after 20 years of service to the county. Board Chair Ted Pihlman presented Tan with a plaque, stating, "The Cloquet district never had a more dedicated advocate." And with the same wry humor that has been his trademark over the years, Tan declared, "Where's my watch?"

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