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Blackduck City Council gets good report on annual audit; hears from Beltrami Electric

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Blackduck City Council met in regular session Aug. 17, moving swiftly through its agenda before hearing from Sandy Nelson of Miller McDonald, about the city's annual audit.

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Nelson presented the 2008 individual audit report to the council stating that Miller McDonald gives their opinion on financial statements.

"Expenditures are pretty stable," Nelson began. "The general fund is being well managed."

Nelson also mentioned that the golf course's budget was down from previous years as was the water and sewer portion of the audit.

"The general fund and the liquor store funds did really well this year," she said. "We didn't find any problems and the city has complied with all the guidelines of the budget," she said.

Nelson went over a few points with the council on each fund before informing the board that the city's audit looked good and that Miller McDonald found no problems with it.

Following a short discussion, the council voted to approve the audit and moved on to the rest of the agenda.

Next to come before the council was Leo Johnson, representative of the Kitchigami Library Board. Johnson brought to the council, a revision of the joint powers agreement between the city and KRL.

"The changes you (the city) had requested have been made as well as others to the JPA," said Johnson. "I believe the board changed everything you wanted changed on it, Johnson explained."

Mayor Scott Palmer responded by telling Johnson, "The only change we wanted made was concerning the citizen representation wording."

According to Johnson, the wording concerning citizen representation had been changed as well as other points which he went over with the council.

He went on to say that Bemidji and Beltrami County had already signed the JPA with Kitchigami.

Following some discussion, the council voted unanimously to accept the agreement with the changes.

Palmer then asked Johnson if he would remain as the city's representative to KRL to which Johnson answered, "Yes. I would be happy to remain as your representative."

Next up were members from Beltrami Electric who came before the council to answer any questions concerning the closing of the electric company's outpost building just north of Blackduck.

Appearing before the council were Beltrami Electric General Manager Lynette Nieuwsma, Cindy Gannon, communications specialist, Greg Todavich, line supervisor and board member Jack Swenson.

Nieuwsma stood up and addressed the council, explaining why the decision had been made to close the outpost. "Closing this building was a financial decision and we took a long, hard look at this before the decision was made." she said. "We do not believe this will cause a change in service to the area and the decision was agonized over before it was finally made," she said.

She then turned the floor over to Todavich for any questions the council had.

Palmer mentioned that he had heard it from some of the older residents in Blackduck that when the electric company had bought out Blackduck's power company back in the 1950s, that there had been an agreement that Beltrami Electric would always have a presence in town.

"We have looked through our records," said Todavich, "because we had heard of that as well and we haven't found anything to indicate that this was true."

The council was told that there was only one Beltrami Electric outpost and that it was the one just north of Blackduck. Nieuwsma explained that most outposts are now 60 miles from company headquarter buildings.

"It used to be that they were closer to their headquarters but now, with everyone and everything being closer and easier to get to, these outposts are either being moved further away or closed down all together," she said.

Todavich explained that back in the 1950s and '60s, the electric company used diesel generators which meant they would have to be staffed. "Now, there is really no need to have a building staffed."

The question of after hours service to the Blackduck area was also directed to the cooperative's group. Again, they reiterated that there would be no change in service.

"You are probably not even aware of it but 90-95 percent of all after hours service calls come out of Bemidji," Todavich explained.

After a lengthy discussion, Nieuwsma thanked the council for their input and the council moved on to the next item on the agenda which were the committee reports.

Shawn Waldo, manager of The Pond, briefly told the council that all went well for the Backwoods Bash. "We had a great crowd and were really busy," she said. "We had no incidences at all and everyone behaved themselves."

She went on to mention that she had had positive responses to the new walls at the liquor store and that the new door was in and let a lot of light into the bar area.

A quick report was then given on Pine Tree Park with City Administrator Karin Elhard giving the update the council.

Attention was then turned toward the bike trail. It was stated that the city's engineer had met with the contractor about the bad places in the asphalt and the best way to fix them.

"How long do we let this go on?" asked Palmer. "I mean, when is it going to be done? It was supposed to have been finished last fall and here it is again -- almost a year later -- and it's still not finished! How long do we let it go on?"

City Maintenance Supervisor Bob Klug Jr. explained to Palmer that there were just a few things left to be done. "There is a little bit of ditch cleaning left to do, some signage and a bit of shouldering left to be done," he said.

The council then had a brief discussion on a letter that will be sent to homeowners in the city's limits concerning the state of property and what can be done about it. Elhard read the letter aloud that would be sent out.

Palmer then went on the record as saying he thought everyone involved with the Backwoods Bash did a great job and he thanked everyone involved before the council adjourned for the evening.

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