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Cass County Board: 2018 tax levy will represent 2.5 percent increase over 2017

WALKER—The Cass County Board Tuesday set the county's final 2018 levy at $22,307,860. That is 2.49 percent above the 2017 levy.

The state requires the county to show the $503,000 levy for Longville Ambulance District in its total levy even though that is only collected from property owners in the ambulance service area.

Without the ambulance levy, the amount levied for just county use will be $21,804,860 or 2.55 percent higher than the amount for the county share in 2017. Cass's tax rate in 2018 will be 31.836 percent.

Of the final 2018 levy, $11,674,448 goes to general revenue, $367,285 to library services; $4,077,590 to road and bridge; $170,000 to capital projects; $5,263,447 to health, human and veterans services; and $1,436,041 to public assistance administration.

Cass will receive $1,183,951 in county program aid from the state in 2018.

When state and federal grants and income from other sources are added to the levy, Cass expects to receive a total of $56,765,266 in 2018 and to spend $56,547,718.

Expenditures will include $21,946,118 for general revenue; $4,770,000 for self-insurance; $11,696,974 for road and bridge; $14,943,191 for health, human and veterans services; $170,000 for capital improvements; $300,000 for unorganized town roads; $2,274,150 for the land department; $80,000 for environmental trust fund; and $376,285 for Kitchigami Library.

The county board approved salaries for elected officials Tuesday. The sheriff and county recorder, who have been in office long enough to be at the top step of the county's pay scale, will not receive step increases to their pay rates in July as newer employees and officials do.

The sheriff's annual pay will be $110,219.20 in 2018. The county recorder's pay will be $77,292.80.

Since the county attorney is newly appointed, he will be at Step 1 of the county's pay scale from January through June, with an annual rate of $95,118.40. He will move to Step 2 July 1, at which the annual pay rate is $97,947.20.

The commissioners set their own salaries at $26,114. That is a 2.5 percent raise from their 2017 salary, the same percent increase they have granted to all county employees for 2018.

Per diems will continue at $75 per board meeting or a committee meeting at which the commissioner is assigned to represent the board. The per diem is not paid for the board's first meeting each month, the audit meeting, the board of equalization or canvassing board.

Citizens appointed to county commissions and committees receive the same $75 per meeting, except the civil service commission. State law prohibits per diems for that commission.

The board approved buying $1,524,225 worth of new equipment for county use. Much of it is computer software and hardware, plus miscellaneous replacement office furniture.

New vehicles are listed for the following departments: assessor, one pickup truck; highway, two tandem trucks with plows, two loader backhoes, two trailers, one tractor, one pickup; HHVS, two vehicles; land department, one pickup; environmental services, one pickup truck.

The commissioners took formal action to confirm their earlier announced intent to assign state statutory duties of the auditor-treasurer office to the county's chief financial officer. Their action also assigns election oversight to former Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson as the new elections administrator. She will have two former auditor office employees assigned to assist her.

Because Waste Management will increase its charge for disposing of Cass County garbage by $1 per ton in 2018, the county board voted to raise the county's tipping fee to garbage haulers by the same amount, effective Feb. 1, 2018.

The board voted to advertise for an assistant director for the environmental services department.

That position has not been filled since 2008. The board decided to fill the position now, because Planning Director and Solid Waste Officer Paul Fairbanks plans to retire in 2018. Hiring earlier in 2018 will give the new assistant director time to work with Fairbanks to learn that portion of environmental services prior to Fairbanks' retirement.

The board appointed commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Bob Kangas to serve as a screening team to review applicants for assistant director.