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Beltrami County Board: MAGIC Act gets board support

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday joining the Minnesota Accountable Government, Innovation and Collaboration (MAGIC) Act initiated by the Association of Minnesota Counties.

The bill to redesign the relationship between the counties and state of Minnesota will be introduced next week, but meanwhile, Beltrami County Board members have resolved that the new way of doing business will be more efficient and creative than the current arrangement. Currently, counties aren't allowed by the state to make any moves in health and human services unless specifically authorized by the state. The new model would allow counties flexibility for innovative contracting methods and to explore more efficient methods of delivering state-mandated services, as long as those innovations do not violate state law.

The MAGIC Act also requires counties to identify desired outcomes, develop business plans to accomplish them and report measured outcomes within approximately 24 months.

Commissioners had thoroughly discussed the advantages of the MAGIC Act during the April 5 annual strategic planning session, so the resolution was passed without discussion Tuesday.

In other business the Beltrami County Board:

- Approved a request from Bill Patnaude, director of the Beltrami County Environmental Services Department, for a $9,500 match to a grant of $11,400 for the Lake Protection Water Plan Challenge Grant to assess water quality and develop goals and reports for 19 Beltrami County Lakes. The following lakes fall under the grant: Blackduck, Big Turtle, Bemidji, Gull, Big, Andrusia, Turtle River, Pimushe, Kitchi, Wolf, Long, Rabideau, Movil, Moose, Balm, Beltrami, Three Island, Little Turtle and Campbell.

The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Jim Lucachick voicing the no-vote. Considering the need to support programs for vulnerable people in the county, he said he didn't want to add to the budget for projects that are not emergencies.

However, County Administrator Tony Murphy said reserves were left over from a 2010 strategic initiative, which pertains to the lakes project. Murphy recommended the $9,500 match using those funds.

- Approved a request from Assistant Auditor Becky Murphy for $15,000 currently budgeted for electronic time cards for Beltrami County Highway Department employees.

- Heard an appeal from Scott Dane, executive director of the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, to waive the contact extension fees because loggers couldn't get into the woods and fulfill their contracts during the wet winter.

Commissioners agreed to discuss the request during the next work session May 3.

- Approved a request from Becky Schueller, executive director of Evergreen Youth & Family Services, to apply for a grant of about $450,000 from the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services to serve long-term homeless people. She said about 420 households in Beltrami and Cass counties are served. The application doesn't involve any Beltrami County expenditures.

- Approved a request from Trish Hansen, Bemidji area supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, contract for 2012 and 2013 for $77,112 each year for the Sentence to Service program. During the first quarter of 2011 60 men and 28 women were involved in the program providing $35,976 worth of work hours.

"Most of our work is done for non-profits in Beltrami County," Hansen said.