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Beltrami County mulls options for Natural Resource Management

Relocating the Beltrami County Natural Resource Management Department with the County Highway Department is one of several options county commissioners will consider Tuesday.

Bemidji architect Mike Johnston gave commissioners four options in a presentation he made Nov. 30. Commissioners will ponder those options as part of their regular 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the County Administration Building.

Beltrami County's lease with the Lakeside Service Center, where NRM is now located, ends Dec. 31, 2011, prompting commissioners to look at alternatives.

"Also, the County Highway Garage office area is in need of remodeling to meet a number of energy conservation code requirements," County Administrator Tony Murphy says in a memo to commissioners.

According to Johnston, the NRM offices could move to the Courthouse Annex, where there is unused space, at an estimated cost of $395,105.

Performing County Highway Department energy conservation upgrades would cost an estimated $531,578.

Co-locating NRM offices with County Highway Department offices would cost an estimated $1.34 million.

Of the total, $182,520 would pay for NRM offices, $150,880 for County Highway Department office upgrades, $339,710 for shared space and the remainder for mechanical and air handling systems, site work and architect and engineering fees.

Building a cold storage facility at the County Highway Department would cost an estimated $546,084. It would provide storage for NRM and the Soil and Water Conservation Service and Sheriff's Department.

Commissioners Nov. 30 said the most practical solution would probably be to move NRM into a campus with the County Highway Department at County Road 11, but the question comes on how to pay for it.

Murphy said he would not recommend bonding at this time. "I wouldn't issue debt service , with the uncertainty of the financial health of the state."

Commissioners after discussing the options on Tuesday, may select a preferred option.