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Cass County: Public comments sought on 5-year capital improvement plan

Cass County will receive public comments from now through a public hearing during the 9 a.m. June 4 regular county board meeting at the courthouse in Walker before the board is scheduled to adopt a five-year capital improvement plan.

The plan identifies specific expenditures for 2019 and 2020. Only expected building maintenance and highway equipment expenditures are listed for 2021 through 2024.

The plan proposes the county spending down its capital improvement fund from $14,396,176 at the beginning of 2019 to $12,872,738 by year end and down to $11,453,327 by the end of 2020.

This is proposed despite the fact the county levied $600,600 for 2019 to supplement the fund.

This was originally created by setting aside money left unspent at the end of each year over several years when the county was expanding rapidly and its valuation rose at the same time. Also, department heads watched their spending, so they did not use all of their annual operating allocations, county officials reported.

Since the recession, the fund has not grown appreciably.

Having this fund enabled the county to build buildings as needed without incurring any debt since the existing law enforcement center and jail at Walker was built in 1988. The county currently has no debt.

The 2019 plan proposes the county would not incur any new debt until it becomes necessary at some future point to build a new law enforcement center and court building for an estimated $50 million.

Cass proposes to spend in 2019:

• $25,000 to buy 18 more electronic poll pads to replace paper voter registration lists in precincts and $113,220 in 2020 to replace assistive voting devices.

• $110,000 to finish installing a unified phone system, plus $100,000 for repairs on the county seat campus in Walker. The $100,000 for repairs continues to be levied annually.

• $550,000 in 2020 for the heating and cooling system for the county seat campus. The current heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system was installed in 1986 and was modified from wood pellet to oil to propane.

• $41,590 for building repairs at the county's main garbage and recycling transfer station north of Pine River.

• $85,000 for software to automate and streamline the county's current voucher submittal, approval and payment process and $37,500 in 2020 for human resource and payroll software.

• $35,000 to replace the county's uninterrupted power supply to back up power for 25 servers and other devices used by employees, law enforcement, E-911 and the county website.

• $59,200 to complete aerial photography of the county in high resolution. This project is partially paid by state and soil and water conservation district money.

• $400,000 to replace and modernize the 1988 jail locking system, intercom and add more jail cameras; plus $400,000 to replace sheriff's mobile and portable radios due to the fact Motorola will no longer service their existing radios. Also, $225,000 in 2020 for E-911 public safety answering point system. Motorola no longer will support the sheriff's current system at the end of 2020.

• $725,900 to complete the new county satellite highway garage and Longville Ambulance Service building in Longville, $1,113,271 in 2024 for a new satellite highway garage at Hackensack and $1,391,100 in 2029 for a new satellite highway garage at Pillager. Dates and costs for Hackensack and Pillager garages are tentative.

• $116,048 for salt brine mixing equipment and salt storage shed roof repair, plus $324,491 in 2020 and $204,920 in 2021 for highway garage improvements.

• $637,000 in 2019, $622,500 in 2020, $530,000 in 2021, $480,000 in 2022, $476,000 in 2023 and $549,000 in 2024 for county highway equipment replacement. Highway equipment to be replaced in 2019 includes $285,600 for motor grader with plow, $31,400 for walk-n-pack roller, $210,000 for tandem truck with plow, $55,000 for six shop trailer upgrades and $55,000 for survey equipment.

• $18,000 to repaint and stain the 12-year-old land department building at Backus and gravel for the shop parking lot.

• $10,000 to start contributing the same amount each of five years to create a maintenance budget for Deep Portage Learning Center.

The plan also sets proposed county road improvements for each of the next five years and lists potential future needs beyond the next five years.

A complete copy of the plan is available on the county website at