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Beltrami County Board: Redesign catches counties off guard

Last week's release of a 10-point government redesign plan by the Association of Minnesota Counties apparently caught many counties off guard.

Beltrami County commissioners will discuss the redesign plan during their 3 p.m. work session Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

The discussion is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

"Concerns have been raised by AMC member counties regarding both the content of the plan adopted by the Board of Directors and the process followed related to the adoption and advocacy of the plan," County Administrator Tony Murphy states in a memo to commissioners.

"During the County Board work meeting, members of the Beltrami County Board will have their first opportunity to review the plan and to discuss any concerns," Murphy wrote.

In the wake of the plan's public release Tuesday, AMC Executive Director Jim Mulder submitted his resignation, effective in two weeks.

Mulder had announced the redesign on Tuesday, and then after 21 years, said he would leave the AMC.

Actually, Mulder said, he thought about staying on an extra year to shepherd the proposal through the Legislature. But in the end, he and his wife decided that he should devote full time to completing his doctorate in public administration.

"There is absolutely no truth to it," he said of the rumor that he was forced out. "I had planned to do this."

In fact, he added, a couple county commissioners "are very angry with me leaving."

The new plan calls for several controversial measures, such as having counties take over state highway maintenance, cut the State Patrol in half, allow counties to replace state aid with a half-cent sales tax, and allow counties a home rule charter.

According to Murphy's memo, the AMC Board approved "a radical shift" in its Minnesota Redesign plan on Feb. 19. AMC distributed the new 10-point plan to counties on Feb. 22 and then went public with it on Feb. 23.

On Wednesday, AMC testified before the House Property Tax Division on the plan.

Among those at the St. Paul Capitol news briefing Tuesday was Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene.

Commissioners have set 3 p.m. for a conference call with as many local legislators as possible for an update on legislative issues.

Also during the work session, commissioners will open 2010 forest development activities bids, discuss a proposed public safety answering point study and review the Park & Trail Advisory Council bylaws to consider term limits for members.

Commissioners at their 5 p.m. regular meeting will receive an update on Beltrami County Housing and Redevelopment Authority activities, consider a contract with Rural Minnesota CEP for mandated services and select two townships for this year's remonumentation efforts.

The board's consent agenda includes monthly bills and warrant payment listing, retroactive approval to pay bills and approval of landowner permit for Bemidji High School Forest ski trails,

Highway Department business includes approval of a bid for a County Road 41 project, approval to hire summer laborers and approval of a resolution of state Department of Transportation detour on County Road 2 during U.S. Highway 71 South construction.

And, commissioners will consider a Paul Bunyan Task Force Management Information System services agreement and approval of an ISeries MIS hosting agreement with Lake of the Woods County.

Minnesota Capitol Bureau reporter Don Davis contributed to this report.