|4/13/2019 1:56:00 PM|
Cass County Board: Three years in, local option sales tax benefits road improvements
MONICA LUNDQUISTWALKER-Cass County's local option half-cent sales tax has enabled the county to make more road improvements since it was implemented three years ago, the county's highway department annual report shows.
Cass County Correspondent
In 2018, the county collected $1,978,411 from the half-cent sales tax. It spent $2,020,324 to reconstruct county state aid highways 12, 38, 61 and 66.
It enabled the county to collect $418,000 less from property taxpayers for roads than it otherwise would have, even without doing these additional roads.
The county has been able to reduce its proportion of state-aid road maintenance costs from 30 percent in 2014 and 2015 to 8 percent in 2018. State aid paid $2,347,777 in 2018 and the county, $205,594.
The state-aid road maintenance budget covers such services as snowplowing, gravel smoothing, washout repairs and culvert or bridge repairs.
The county expanded the number of state-aid road construction miles, because of the new local sales tax, but it means state-aid money in 2018 paid for 62.77% of the total the county spent on road reconstruction.
While the county probably has not actually built an entirely new road that was not previously there since the 1940s or earlier, it has done a lot to rebuild the base and resurface both its asphalt paved roads and its gravel surface unpaved roads.
Cass has 500.3 miles of regular state-aid roads, 369.37 miles of which are paved. It has 31.5 miles of bituminous state-aid municipal roads. None are gravel. It has 285 miles of county roads (ineligible for state aid), of which 77.14 are paved.
The county's 2018 road reconstruction costs ran $4,502,683.14 for regular state-aid roads, $4,081,446.79 for county roads and $443,075.75 for bridges in addition to the amount covered by the local option sales tax.
For 2019, Cass plans to recondition county state-aid highways 117 and 73; reconstruct county roads 136, 157 and 128; replace a County Road 107 bridge; and replace the County Highway 8 bridge at Federal Dam.
Money to pay for those projects will come from a combination of state aid, local option sales tax, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe road funds, a state park road fund, county land department trails fund, federal grants and county property tax levy.
The 2019 budget calls for $13,449,824 revenue and $10,809,123 expenditures.
In 2018, Cass received $14,167,956 highway revenue and spent $14,558,780. There was $2,627,547 cash on hand at the end of 2018 in the highway account.
County Engineer Darrick Anderson informed the board the new satellite highway garages the county has been building to replace old ones around the county have been the same basic plan, with costs varying depending upon the varying soil conditions encountered as the projects were built or the cost to connect to city water and sewer systems.
Cass did $439,515 worth of improvements to the main garage at Walker in 2014 and added office space and vehicle storage to existing garages at Hackensack and Pillager in 2016 for $100,325 and $99,843, respectively.
Entire new garages were built at Cass Lake in 2015 for $391,551, at Pine River in 2016 for $583,390 and at Remer in 2017 for $683,277. Construction began in 2018 and will be completed in 2019 on a new garage at Longville. That is expected to cost $730,000.
Cass ended 2018 with $704,007 worth of supplies on hand such as tires, mower blades, gas/oil, salt-sand mix, crack filler, signs, culverts and lath.
It had $2,888,452 worth of large equipment such as graders, trucks and backhoes that originally cost $6,641,104 when new.
It had $126,350 worth of smaller equipment such as trailers, mowers, tar kettles and saws, which cost $421,007.74 new.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.
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