Cass County Board: Commissioners meet with area legislators about 2018 concerns
WALKER—Reps. Sandy Layman and John Poston attended the Cass County Board meeting Tuesday to learn more about the county's concerns to take to the 2018 Minnesota Legislature.
While the state made money available to build new recreational trails, Cass officials would like to see money designated for maintaining those trails. There currently is no state funding for overlaying or crack sealing on existing paved trails.
Cass would like to see the law preventing counties from setting speed limits repealed. Currently, only the state can set speeds on county roads. Townships, however, are allowed to set speeds for their own roads.
County costs for child protection services have escalated significantly since the Legislature expanded child safety measures. Much of those costs are borne by counties. Cass would like to see the state review the effectiveness of these increased measures to see whether children are actually safer today than they were before the new state requirements.
The county continues to seek a larger share than the current 10 percent of sales taxes the state collects from Indian reservations where casinos are located. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe has gone on record supporting the county's request.
Cass officials believe when the state sets property values used to calculate property taxes, the state should have a fund from which to pay any refunds due to the property taxpayer. This applies to such classes of property as utilities and railroads. Currently, local governments must pay any tax refund the tax courts find to be due.
The county asked the state to remove a population limit on the size of a county to qualify to consider adopting the community corrections form of probation services. Currently, only counties having 30,000 or more in population are eligible to consider that option. Cass is about 1,500 people short of qualifying.
Because the vast majority of offices on election ballots are for state and federal offices, Cass officials believe election equipment purchases and maintenance should not be primarily a county expense as they currently are. Only one-time state grants have gone toward part of the new equipment purchases.
Cass has a "no-net-loss" policy for its county land ownership and management. Other counties are trying to sell their public land. Because of this, it has become harder for Cass to obtain Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund money toward its planned land purchases.
Administrator Joshua Stevenson explained that to sell parcels along main roads not conducive to natural resource management to the public, it relies on having money available to purchase replacement acreage to help give access for public use to landlocked existing county acreages.
Cass wants its applications to the Lessard-Sams fund given greater consideration than given the last couple years.
The county board asked the legislators to continue to keep the lines of communication open with local cities on the disagreement over whether the state should continue building Highway 371 into a four-lane road north of Jenkins. Some towns north of Jenkins favor the four-lane, while others do not.