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December 2, 2020

10/23/2020 1:53:00 PM
Cass County Board: Committee looks at Costs to Repair, Maintain Deep Portage
By Kyndra Johnson of the Press-Citizen

BACKUS - As part of a summary of reports from several committees, County Administrator Josh Stevenson went over costs expected for the upkeep of Deep Portage Learning Center with Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The Deep Portage Capital Committee previously reviewed the budget for Sept. 1, 2020 - Feb. 1, 2021, and discussed the costs needed to clean the facilities with a skeleton crew at $1,000 per day. About $250,000 will be needed in assets in order to reopen, according to reports. The final financial item discussed was the capital improvement plan, which includes roof replacement, carpet replacement and window/door replacement at the facility. In the county's capital improvement plan an annual amount of $10,000 is to be set aside for Deep Portage with a goal of having $50,000 accumulated by 2023. With recent repairs to the fire suppression system pump needed, there is doubt that goal will be met.

In the capital improvement portion of the report, the following repairs were reported: roof replacement, walk in cooler/freezer repairs and additional fire suppression system repairs were needed. Because the Deep Portage facility was built with State bond proceeds, that the roof replacement should also be funded with State bond proceeds. With that in mind there was a recommendation from the committee for the county board to consider funding a study from qualified architects, through a competitive request for proposal, in order to acquire estimates and design of a roof to pursue state bond funds at an upcoming legislative session.

The next committee summary Stevenson discussed with the board was the Citizens Budget Committee. During the meeting, the committee reviewed the possibility of staff levy reductions of $30,000 in premium costs for workers' compensation insurance, use of the sheriff's department's revolving equipment fund of $15,000 and coronavirus relief funds of $175,000 in an effort to reduce the tax levy. Another recommendation was to use $320,000 from the local option sales tax additional revenue/fund balance.

The committee recommended the board approve using an additional $150,000 in coronavirus relief bill funds. Stevenson mentioned if the board utilized additional money from those funds, the county would have allocated all of the money available to Cass County.

In answering a question of what would happen if an organization or business that was approved couldn't spend the money before the deadline, Stevenson said at that point the county will be able to capture some of the money, otherwise it will end up being repaid to the state. Commissioners Dick Downham and Neal Gaalswyk made the motion to approve the county receiving an additional $150,000 in coronavirus relief funding, with all commissioners voting in favor.

The final committee report Stevenson shared with the board was from the Personnel Committee. During this meeting there was discussion on an ultimatum made from the Department of Corrections to either pay an invoice of approximately $105,000 or take on additional gross misdemeanor cases with no additional funds from the state. Currently Cass County is the only county not being billed or taking on additional gross misdemeanor cases and if they decide not to take on any new clients effective July 1, 2021, billing would start for new clients. The probation department was asked to bring back a recommendation to the committee regarding the next step and any budget implications.

Another item discussed was the pending retirement of a human resources consultant. Currently Cass County uses Dorothy Persons with TRIAD HR Consulting to assist in grade rating job classifications. Morrison County uses the same consultant and has a similar point system. Therefore, a recommendation was made to collaborate with Morrison County for this service when TRIAD HR Consulting is no longer providing this service. Downham and Commissioner Bob Kangas made the motion with the board unanimously approving.


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