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Retirees concerned about tax increases

Clarence Badger addressed the Carlton County Board of Commissioners during the Truth and Taxation Public Hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The retired Cloquet High School teacher asked commissioners to consider retirees on fixed incomes in the county ...

Clarence Badger addressed the Carlton County Board of Commissioners during the Truth and Taxation Public Hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

The retired Cloquet High School teacher asked commissioners to consider retirees on fixed incomes in the county before they decide to increase salaries and health insurance for county employees.

Badger built his own home in the 1970s for $40,000, but its valuation has skyrocketed to $250,000 over the years. With the increase in his home value came an increase in his property taxes. A $4,000 to $5,000 property tax increase is substantial, Badger told board members.

"Where is the money supposed to come from?" Badger asked the commissioners. "I'm 78 years old and on a fixed income."

He explained his Social Security income would only increase 2 percent in 2018. He pays $10,000 a year for his out-of-pocket health insurance. His co-pay is $2,000 and his wife has been battling cancer.

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"I hope you look at the whole picture," Badger said. "I have had a hard time covering my own health insurance."

The general salary increase for county employees was up by 3 percent and health insurance increased by 4 percent.

"We were lucky we were able to hold ours to 4 percent," board Chairman Gary Peterson said. He added that many places increased more than Carlton County.

Cloquet resident Debra Topping asked how much the commissioners are paid per year. They currently earn $22,742, according to Paul Gassert, Carlton County auditor and treasurer.

The Transfer Station Trucking costs will increase about $97,000 in 2018. There will be $234,045 for additional positions or changes to positions in the Revenue Fund, and $141,569 for additional positions or changes to positions in the Human Services Fund.

There will be a $90,000 county match for $1.7 million federally funded runway work at the Cloquet Airport.

There was an estimated increase of $156,879 in Community Correction Funding to ARC.

The increases add up to 4.92 percent for property taxes levied in 2018. The board noted they expect the levy to decrease a small amount when they meet Dec. 26 to adopt the finalized changes.

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Jail study discussion tabled

During the regular County Board meeting prior to the truth in taxation meeting, commissioners and Sheriff Kelly Lake discussed the jail study.

Lake recommended hiring a person to oversee the project and keep it moving forward. After some back-and-forth conversation, the commissioners voted to table the issue until the second week of January.

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