Carlton County Board OKs preliminary levy at 6.9% increase

The county's preliminary levy was approved at $32,286,408 for 2023, an increase of $2 million compared to 2022.

Carlton County Transportation Building
The Carlton County Transportation Building.
Dylan Sherman / 2022 file / Pine Journal
We are part of The Trust Project.

CARLTON — With rising costs and increased staff salaries, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved its preliminary tax levy, with a 6.9% increase over the previous year, during its meeting Monday, Sept. 26.

The increase sets the preliminary levy at $32,286,408 for 2023, an increase of $2 million compared to 2022.

The board voted 3-1 in favor of the 2023 levy and budget with Commissioner Mark Thell voting against and Commissioner Gary Peterson absent.

Thell said the increases and comments from his constituents were reasons why he chose to vote against the levy.

"I think we can do better," he said. "Yes, we will have a levy increase, but can we find some of the things (to lower) in the more medium time here."


While the board has approved the preliminary levy it does have the ability to lower it in December when it is certified.

During the previous meeting on Sept. 6, County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said the levy increase is mostly made up from increases to county staff salaries and benefits, as well as inflation impacts in the transportation department.

The proposed amount of $7,434,749.86 marks a 6.26% rise from last year’s levy.

Genereau explained that every percentage point increase in staff wages is close to a percentage point increase in the levy, and this year a 3% increase had been negotiated.

Inflation has caused costs to rise in the transportation department, according to Genereau, with the road and bridge fund increasing by $872,000, from $3.16 million to $4.03 million.

Commissioner Marv Bodie said he hoped the transportation department could look into its budget and see where it could "tighten their belts" before December.

The board also set Dec. 13 as the date for the truth in taxation meeting for residents to learn about and ask questions on the levy and budget for the upcoming year.

Belich to retire

In other county business, Sheriff Kelly Lake requested filling a scheduled retirement in the chief deputy position.

Lake said the current chief deputy, Brian Belich will be retiring no later than Nov. 28 and will not be on duty up until that time as he is using his accrued time off.


Lake proposed appointing Lt. Dan Danielson to the position as he has taken on the duties in Belich's absence and has also been trained by Belich.

The request was approved by the board and they congratulated Danielson.

Lake said there is no doubt that Danielson will do a fantastic job.

This story was updated at 6:55 p.m. Sept. 29 to include the date of the Carlton County Board meeting.  It was originally posted at 9:15 p.m. Sept. 26.

Charges in Carlton County, where the man was arrested with 11 pounds of methamphetamine, were dropped after federal charges were filed.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
What to read next
Performances of 'A Christmas Carol' begin Friday, Dec. 2.
Wrenshall Community Education Director Ashley Laveau gives an update on course offerings and events:
The Cloquet School Board approved a construction manager and a bidding process for the proposed $4.5 million renovation project at its meeting Monday, Nov. 28. Officials also laid out tentative plans to pay for the costs of the project.
The bat, once common across northern Minnesota forests, has been decimated by white-nose syndrome.