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Crow Wing County Board adopts fee schedules and policies

Northeast Regional Director Susanne Hinrichs of the University of Minnesota Extension-Brainerd Regional Office talks at the Crow Wing County board meeting on Tuesday about a proposal to charge for the proctoring of the commercial pesticide applicator test. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

The Crow Wing County Extension Office will begin to proctor the annual commercial pesticide applicator certification test for those wanting to take it, but it comes at a cost.

The new fee was among deletions, additions and changes to the 2018 fee schedules and policies adopted by the county board at its Tuesday meeting after holding a public hearing.

"We approve our fee schedule each year and so if someone comes to the public hearing with a question, issue or concern, now would be the time for them to bring that forward," County Administrator Tim Houle explained to those at Tuesday's board meeting.

Among the fee schedules and policies adopted by the board were the removal of a $50 fee associated with creation of parcels on tax rolls. The fee was a separate fee taxpayer services charged for the creation of parcels on the tax rolls, according to officials.

Proctoring fees

No audience member spoke at the public hearing before Finance Director Jason Rausch summarized the changes and Northeast Regional Director Susanne Hinrichs of the University of Minnesota Extension-Brainerd Regional Office went in depth about the new proctoring fee.

"This is actually for a commercial license, so it would be like a golf course or maybe a service that applies pesticides, so it wouldn't be a private pesticide applicator (like a farmer)," she said of the annual commercial pesticide applicator certification test.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture inquired if the Crow Wing County Extension Office would offer to proctor the certification test; customers in the county have had to take the annual test in Little Falls or Aitkin—the closest cities where the test was offered.

"They think it would be upwards of maybe about 40 proctoring each year, which happens in March, April and May, usually, and it's a yearly permit that they get. ... And they could apply pesticides anywhere in the whole state," she said.

The proposed $104 charge per customer consists of $64 in Agriculture Department fees and $40 in county fees. (The Agriculture Department fees include a $50 license fee and a $14 agriculture chemical cleanup reimbursement for a total of $64.)

"I understand that the Minnesota Department of Ag fee changes a little bit each year," Hinrichs told the board.

"We chose to make a fee of $40, which is a county fee, because we think it will take about two hours of time for the person who will be proctoring that test and then to send in the results to the Minnesota Department of Ag."

Testing can happen on a computer or a paper test, which takes about an hour to complete the exam, but the state Agriculture Department requires both testing methods be proctored.

"Since this would be a new fee that's why we really thought it should be addressed and brought to you for decision-making," Hinrichs told the board.

Sheriff fees

Commissioner Paul Koering made the motion to adopt the proposed fee schedules and policies, which Commissioner Paul Thiede seconded, and it was approved by the rest of the board. Commissioner Doug Houge was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

Also among the new fees adopted Tuesday is a charge of $10 per day "seizure and sale of real or personal property" (storage fees).

"From time to time, the sheriff is ordered to seize and sell real or personal property on behalf of a party who has been awarded a judgment for monies owed. It is that party's responsibility to arrange for the sale of the property," Rausch told the board.

"There are times, however, when the sheriff has to store the property for a length of time pending the sale. This fee is to ensure that storage is at the expense of the party arranging the sale.

Anyone who has been awarded a judgment against another party may present that judgment to the sheriff for assistance in collection of the debt, according to Rausch, and the county, like others in the state has seen an increase in the number of writs, which is expected to continue.

"Writs are extremely time consuming and in many cases the commission of 5 percent is woefully lacking in offsetting the expense of the time that is involved," Rausch said about the new $50 fee for writs of execution for amounts up to $1,000.

"By creating two fee levels, we hope to recoup some of the expense related to smaller levies (currently not being collected) while not making the process any more expensive for those that are trying to collect significantly higher judgments."

The process of providing bail bonds arraignment lists has been automated, so it does not provide a burden to the county to provide, according to Rausch, so the $200-a-year associated fee was eliminated with the board's adoption Tuesday of the 2018 fee schedules and policies.

Special management housing at the jail, defined as "anyone that requires additional medical care while incarcerated" increased from $125 a day to $165 a day for next year. The jail boarding fee of $55 per day remained unchanged after Tuesday's board meeting.

"Special management is very time consuming," he said. "We have seen an increase in counties wanting to use our services in this area. ... We are still willing to provide the service, but do believe that the fee would be more appropriately set at three times the normal housing rate."