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Beltrami County Board: 2010 budget process to begin

Despite not knowing how the 2009 Legislature's budget plans affect counties, the Beltrami County Board on Tuesday will discuss a process for its 2010 budget.

Last month, County Administrator Tony Murphy gave commissioners a 14-page budget strategy which will form the basis of discussion during the board's 5 p.m. regular session Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

The Legislature needs to fill a $6.4 billion budget hole, but Minnesota counties have also asked for a new way of doing business as the state's agent to deliver services. Counties seek outcome-based directives, rather than receiving state mandates that aren't funded.

"As Beltrami County approaches the early development of the 2010-11 county budget, it is not possible to fully predict the impacts of legislative decisions on future county revenues or mandates," Murphy's document states.

"However, we must expect that non-dedicated state funding to counties will be reduced dramatically," he states. "We must also anticipate that dedicated funding for many state-mandated services will also be cut. Finally, it is not likely that significant mandate relief will be adopted by the Legislature before they adjourn."

The budget strategy offers more than 100 points of discussion for possible changes, from selling the old county fairgrounds to removing pay phones from county buildings. No action is expected Tuesday on any budget ideas or recommendations, but commissioners are expected to agree on a budget process.

"We are convinced that how we do business today is not sustainable," Jim Mulder, Association of Minnesota Counties executive director, said last week in a telephone interview. "Whether we're talking about planning and zoning, human services, almost every service that we deliver, it is not sustainable at the community level."

Local governments need to be working together to craft a redesign of how Minnesota interacts with them, he said. "Much of the legislative focus has been on the math of the budget. The focus at the local level is certainly about our budgets and property taxes, but it's even more important to talk about the services that we deliver, how we deliver them, and what services we may not be able to deliver in the future."

Commissioners will talk about setting a process and calendar for developing not only a 2010 budget but also a 2011 budget framework. That process will also see the development of budget targets for revenues and expenditures.

Establishing priorities is also a process, and to "establish a strategy for responding to those 'budget-buster' issues that will impact future budgeting and the future financial health of county government.

Also during the board's regular meeting, commissioners will discuss selecting a township for remonumentation of public land survey system corners. The board had hoped to complete the county, but the current recession has commissioners wanting to do a township at a time instead.

GIS Director Jane Mueller has prepared a request for qualifications to solicit quotes on doing the remonumentation for the township commissioners select. Townships submitted for possible selection are Bemidji, Eland, South Waskish and Turtle River townships.

The board at its 3 p.m. work session will hear a number of presentations from organizations, as well as conduct a legislative briefing via conference call with Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

-- Update on Beltrami County Agricultural Association activities.

-- Minnesota County Biological Survey presentation from Holly Rowe, state Department of Natural Resources plant ecologist.

-- Update on Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District activities.

-- Red Lake Watershed District annual report presentation.

-- Beltrami County Highway Department annual report presentation.

The County Board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of online auction authority, resolution of support for sponsorship of trails in Beltrami County and cancellation of forfeiture of two parcels.

Also, the Sheriff's Department requests approval to hire a casual boat and water deputy for the summer, a resolution authorizing grant participation in the Safe & Sober program, a resolution to apply for a U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services grant for the southeast deputy position and for a U.S. Department of Justice federal economic stimulus grant of $40,416 for equipment.

The County Natural Resource Management Department is asking for a consumer scale agreement with Remer Cut-stock Lumber.