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Beltrami County Board approves preliminary levy for 2012

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners, with a quorum of three, voted unanimously in approval on a proposed 2012 levy of $17,501,013.

This levy is up by $600,000, or 3.55 percent, from the 2011 levy of $16,901,013.

Commissioners Joe Vene, Quentin Fairbanks and Jack Frost all voted in favor of the increase, which will come from new revenue, mainly from Enbridge Energy and Menards new construction.

Vene and Fairbanks served on the budget committee.

The District 3 seat is vacant following Jim Heltzer's death in July.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick, District 5, was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. However, he issued a statement.

"I am opposed to the levy increase proposed by the budget committee to the County Board," Lucachick wrote. "I strongly feel that a 0 (zero) levy should have been proposed and the necessary adjustments made to offset that level."

"This is just a proposal that can be lowered," said Fairbanks.

State law requires a preliminary levy to be in place by Sept. 15. After that, it can be adjusted downward, but not increased. The public hearing on the final 2012 budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 29.

Frost pointed out that the additional $600,000 is revenue positive, but actual taxation will be flat because of the additional new construction.

He also noted that the county is still waiting for the final word on possible state cuts in County Program Aid and Payment in Lieu of Taxes.

"I don't think we've been dealt all the cards here," Frost said. "I think this is being frugal. I think this is proactive. I take the advice of our staff and my two colleagues who served on the committee."

County Road 500

In other business, the commissioners began the process of turning over to Roosevelt Township about 150 feet of the west end of County Road 500, which would remain a public road. Roosevelt Township will build a turnaround and take over responsibility for that portion of the road.

The County Board gave tentative approval to the proposal and held the first public hearing with no objections. The next step is for the County Board to hold a second public hearing in Roosevelt Township.