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Beltrami County Board being asked to consider resolution to establish state of emergency due to flooding

Recent flooding should trigger a state of emergency in Beltrami County, say officials who will seek that designation Tuesday.

While Beltrami County hasn't suffered from rising rivers as is the case in the Red River Valley, snowmelt has created havoc for low-lying properties on open lands and to some county roads.

Beltrami County Emergency Management Director Beryl Wernberg will ask commissioners during their regular 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave., to approve a resolution establishing a state of emergency.

She is expected to give commissioners a report on the effects and damages in the county resulting from flooding last month.

"The adoption of a resolution is a required step to secure reimbursement funding from FEMA, if the county is deemed eligible for such funds," states a memo to commissioners from Wernberg.

The resolution states that the March floodwaters "impacted populations of Beltrami County and its cities" and "the flood event has caused a significant amount of public property damage."

Also during their regular meeting, commissioners will consider a request from Northwoods Habitat for Humanity to abate property taxes now in arrears with penalties for 2008 for property it purchased that year from IBI in the Bemidji Industrial Park.

Taxes and penalties due are $10,222, which Northwoods says poses a hardship for the non-profit. It already sought from the county and was approved a property tax exemption for taxes payable in 2009 and thereafter.

The regular agenda also has commissioners considering a resolution pertaining to accounting standards required for public reporting of health insurance liabilities for retired employees.

County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Mack considers the new reporting standard moot as "Beltrami County has never granted post-employment health benefits so the requirement is not only an unfunded mandate handed to us by an agency, it is a requirement that does not fit our situation at all."

Commissioners will also consider a technology support contract with Bi-County Community Action Program for the county to handle the agency's management information services for $50,000 a year.

The County Board, at its 3 p.m. work session, will receive an annual report from the Giiziibii Resource Conservation & Development Association, hear a presentation from Heading Home Northwest Minnesota on homelessness, consider a county request to increase timber harvest levels this year to meet area mill demand for more local wood, and consider 2009 remonumentation options.

The board will discuss clarifying the reappointment schedule for at-large members to its Parks and Trails Advisory Council. The existing bylaws "are somewhat ambiguous as to the term expiration for existing at-large members," County Attorney Tim Faver states in a memo.

Commissioners are to receive a legislative update about 4:15 p.m. via conference call from Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

The board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of a deposit of public funds policy, a resolution to keep intact payment-in-lieu-of-taxes state funding, a contract for psychiatric mental health and mental health services in the jail, a state Department of Corrections work release contract and an agreement with the U.S. Marshal's Service for housing federal prisoners.

Also, the Sheriff's Department seeks approval of a federal boating safety supplement grant agreement while the Department of Natural Resource Management seeks approval of the Northern Elementary Environmental Education Area Project.

Beltrami County Public Health Nursing Services seeks approval of compliance with accepted professional standards and principles and the Department of Health and Human Services seeks approval of a host county contract with Beltrami Area Service Collaborative and an addendum to a Rural Minnesota CEP contract.

The County Highway Department seeks approval to hire summer laborers, for a resolution and state Department of Transportation agreement for a detour on County Road 515 near Wilton for pending U.S. Highway 2 construction, and a final pay voucher for Rognlien Park road improvements.