WALKER — Cass County commissioners took a tour following Tuesday’s board meeting of the newly cleaned and re-organized courthouse sub-basement, commonly referred to as “the dungeon.”
It used to be an area filled with metal shelving where many county departments sent their old records, including over 100 years of old tax record books, to be retained and forgotten.
The area filled to overcapacity. It was hard to find space to walk between the shelving.
The records were getting water damage from utility water and sewer pipes in the ceiling that leaked from time to time.
About two years ago, the board authorized digitizing the records that needed to be retained, shredding those that did not. The remaining records that would not be copied to digital records have been packed into waterproof plastic boxes.
As county staff began identifying what was in those records, County Recorder Katy Norby returned to the board to explain that digitizing so many records would take years for the existing county staff.
So, the board authorized spending about $100,000 to contract with a digitizing firm to copy the old real estate tax records. That work is nearly complete. Those records will soon go on the county website for public viewing.
While Minnesota does require counties to retain either digital or paper real estate tax records for at least one year out of every 10, the state does not require retaining all old records of judgments or tax forfeitures or information that used to be collected about people’s personal property holdings.
Tuesday, the county board authorized giving some of those old records to Cass County Historical Society. Those paper records will be available for public viewing at the Cass County Historical Museum in Walker during their normal business hours, which adjust seasonally. For times, contact the museum at (218) 547-7251.
Those judgment and personal property records, dating between 1877 and 1936, identify the value of Cass County residents’ holdings.