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Beltrami County Board to look for potential areas to cut spending

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Beltrami County Board to look for potential areas to cut spending
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

With less than a month for the Minnesota Legislature to agree on a 2010-11 biennium budget, Beltrami County commissioners will start to look at areas to cut spending.

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Commissioners, at their 5 p.m. Tuesday regular meeting at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave., will also conduct a public hearing on a an off-sale liquor license for Northwoods Market in Ten Lake Township.

The board will also hear presentations at its 3 p.m. work session on the upcoming 2010 Census, Paul Bunyan Transit, Joint Economic Development Commission and Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center.

Over the past several weeks, county staff have been meeting to develop strategies and ideas in anticipation of expected funding cuts from the 2009 Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, County Administrator Tony Murphy states in a memo to commissioners.

"The recommendations will hopefully serve as a starting point for ideas and discussions leading to the development of the proposed 2010 and 2011 county budgets," Murphy wrote.

The Legislature this week is expected to pass tax bills out of both chambers. The House tax bill will probably include a provision that would allows counties to levy a half-cent sales tax in lieu of raising property taxes.

The Senate bill, although not having that provision, is expected to be less harsh in cuts to state aid to cities and counties than Pawlenty.

"No immediate action is requested by the County Board during the (Tuesday) meeting on any budged strategies," Murphy wrote. "However, sometime in May, the county will need to begin the development of the upcoming county budget and there will need to be some discussion of both process and priorities for the 2010-2011 county budgets."

An off-sale liquor license is proposed for Northwoods Market, 14545 Roosevelt Road S.E., the former Midway Convenience Store, with new manager Jacqueline Lesser.

"A public hearing is required for any new off-sale intoxicating liquor license," County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Mack said in a memo.

The facility would feature a liquor department with a separate entrance from a grocery/bait area. A lighted parking area would serve both functions.

The board, at its 3 p.m. work session, will hear:

E Demonstration and discussion of 2010 Census efforts from Barbara Ronningen from the Minnesota Demographic Center on Census data, some of the trends seen for Beltrami County, and explanations as to why the trends are occurring. She will also overview the upcoming 2010 Census.

E Paul Bunyan Transit Executive Director Greg Negard will upgrade the board on efforts to upgrade facilities, to replace buses and purchase equipment. Included is $1 million in facility upgrades from the federal economic stimulus package, and vehicle purchases in 2010.

E Joint Economic Development Commission Executive Director Larry Young will update commissioners on JEDC activities and priorities.

E Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center Superintendent Bill Frey will update commissioners on the operations of the center.

Commissioners are also expected to hold a conference call sometime during the afternoon with Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

The County Board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of wine/strong beer licenses, a snowmobile capital grant sponsorship resolution, a Beltrami Area Service Collaborative lease renewal in the Community Services Center, sheriff's request for investigator out-of-state training and from the jail of a grant agreement for electronic alcohol monitoring.

Commissioners will also be asked to approve a wetland banking agreement from Joe Figliuzzi for about 150 acres in Woodrow Township.

The County Highway Department will award bids for aggregate stockpile, calcium chloride, rumble strips and pavement markings. Bids will be tabulated in the morning for board awarding later in the day.

Also on the consent agenda, the Department of Health and Human Services will seek approval of a needs determination for day training and habitation programs, of transportation contracts, of host county contracts and of routine monthly reports and bills.

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