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Beltrami County Board mulls new library pact

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Beltrami County Board mulls new library pact
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A new pact with the Kitchigami Regional Library System would decrease direct library services to those counties not agreeing to KRL's budget request.

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Several years in the making, the proposed joint powers agreement will be reviewed by Beltrami County commissioners at their 5 p.m. regular meeting Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

At odds for years and already refusing to agree to a prior joint powers agreement, the new pact defines a budget process for KRL and how member cities and counties react to it.

"The (KRL) Board will adopt an annual operating budget based on recommendations from the Budget Committee," the draft states, which then must be approved by at least two-thirds of the KRL Board.

The adopted budget, with projected income and expenses, then goes to member cities and counties.

"Each city council and county board shall establish the revenue that it will provide to the Kitchigami Regional Library, considering the budget request of the KRL Board and consistent with the requirements of the state of Minnesota," it states.

"If any signatory jurisdiction provides less than the amount requested by the Board, the direct library service in that jurisdiction may be reduced accordingly so as not to restrict library services in the remaining areas," it states.

The KRL System has been basically following that formula the past few years, after an impasse was reached on the prior joint powers pact that specified mandatory payments based on a per capita formula regardless of budgeting for expenses.

Beltrami County bucked that system, as the state allows two minimum formulas -- the per capita assessment or a formula based on tax capacity. The smaller counties with high-taxed season properties preferred the per capita basis, which would have Beltrami paying the most. Based on tax capacity, Beltrami's share was more proportional with those using the per capita system.

The draft pact also sets KRL Board membership at every county and city signatory appointing one commissioner and one council member or a citizen to represent the city or county, and one alternative. But if the city or county appoints a citizen as representative, no alternate can be appointed.

"Counties and cities cannot appoint alternates in the event that their representatives on the board are citizen representatives," the draft states. The move is seen to put more elected officials on the board than citizen appointees, as tax money is overseen.

Locally, Beltrami County and the cities of Bemidji and Blackduck are signatories to KRL, with branch libraries in both cities and mobile library service provided by KRL.

The draft also calls for disputes in interpretation of the joint powers agreement to be settled by engaging the services of a mediator. If that doesn't resolve the issue, then the matter would be submitted to arbitration.

Commissioners may review further changes, if any, that are made by the KRL Board which was to have made final revisions Thursday.

Also during the regular meeting, commissioners will consider adopting a formal right-of-way policy.

"Along Beltrami County highways there are numerous locations where objects have been installed in county rights-of-way," County Highway Engineer Tyler Koos states in a memo to commissioners, "These objects can be a safety hazard to errant vehicles, consequently they also represent a significant liability to the county if one of these objects were hit and someone were injured or killed in an accident."

A written policy, Koos said, should be developed to remove the objects from the road right-of-way.

During the County Board's 3 p.m. work session, commissioners will receive updates on the 4-H program, shooting sports park and the county's solid waste program.

Commissioners' consent agenda includes paying bills, warrant payment listing, approval of a certificate of approval for Bi-County Community Action Program to apply for homeless prevention and housing funding and approval of a contract addendum with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission for Strategy-Aligned Management facilitation.

Also, the County Highway Department seeks approval of a forest road agreement for County Road 33 and for final payment for a road paving project.

And, commissioners will receive monthly health and human services reports and licensing.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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