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Cloquet Area Fire District board creates legislative committee

In order to address pending legislation and be on top of possible state funding, the Cloquet Area Fire District created a legislative committee.

Cloquet Area Fire District headquarters
Cloquet Area Fire District Headquarters.
Jamey Malcomb / 2020 file / Pine Journal

CLOQUET — In order for the Cloquet Area Fire District to have better awareness and evaluation of state legislation, the district board created a legislative committee during its virtual meeting Wednesday, Feb. 16.

The idea was brought to the board by Chair Linda Way, who felt the district has needed a committee of this type for a while.

"In talking with (the) chief, there are things that come down that are different than just the finances," she said.

Way explained the committee will work with the area's legislative representatives, advocating for legislative needs for the district and testifying before state legislative committees should the need arise.

The motion to create the committee passed, with board member Marshall Johnson abstaining and reappointed member Jason Paulson absent.

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Board member Gary Harms was in support of Way's proposal and felt it would be beneficial to the district.

"I think it is very much needed ... particularly with funding," he said.

The committee does not have a specific set of members yet, but Way, Harms and Board member Sheila Lamb expressed interest in serving on the committee.

Way also said retired chief Kevin Schroeder expressed interest in serving, as well as the district's lobbyist.

In other district business, the board decided to send a letter to Rep. Mike Sundin and Sen. Jason Rarick, stating its support of not reinstating a cap on its ambulance levy.

Way told the board the state legislators had been in contact with members who felt putting a cap back on the ambulance levy was needed for the district.

Last year the ambulance levy brought some controversy to the district when residents in ambulance-only sections saw their proposed taxes increase by 300%.

This increase was made by the district after the cap on the ambulance levy was removed by the legislature in 2021, and allowed the district to better balance out the cost of ambulance services.

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None of the board members in attendance supported reinstating a cap on the ambulance levy and motioned to send the letter to the state representatives.

"I encourage you to sign the letter to that effect and get it to him right away," Harms said. "To where this is all coming from, I don't know."

Chief Jesse Buhs also noted the district is in the process of accounting for the costs of the ambulance-only service, in order to clearly present it to taxpayers.

The board also discussed the possibility of returning to in-person meetings next month, and Buhs said the district would monitor COVID-19 case counts and make a determination closer to the next meeting.

Related Topics: CLOQUET
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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