REMER — Cass County hopes to save significantly on heating costs at county buildings located in Walker by switching from heating oil to propane gas before next winter.
Central Services Director Tim Richardson said the conversion would leave the existing oil burners in place but add new propane burners for the boilers at the highway department building, courthouse/jail complex.
This dual fuel system would enable the county to use whichever fuel was lower cost in the future, he said.
The conversion includes moving 18,000-gallon propane tanks from the former Ah-Gwah-Ching property to the back of a parking lot behind the courthouse and an area adjacent to the highway garage.
These large tanks will permit the county to buy propane at about a third lower cost than standard retail propane rates by purchasing in semi-truck loads, Richardson said.
The savings over oil at today’s prices will enable the county to recover in three years the $130,000 cost to move one tank to serve the courthouse/jail, to screen the area around the tanks and to install new burners.
Assuming Leech Lake Reservation follows through on an expressed interest in buying a 10,000 gallon propane tank the county owns at the highway garage, the county would recover the net cost $12,000 cost to move an 18,000 gallon tank to the highway garage in one year, Richardson said.
There is a third 18,000 gallon tank at Ah-Gwah-Ching, which Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District has expressed interest in purchasing from to convert school boilers from oil to gas.
Terms of the county’s land purchase at Ah-Gwah-Ching from the state will require the county to sell the third tank to the school at market value rather than to donate it. That purchase price will be paid to the state.
Tuesday, the county board set a July 3 public hearing on the proposal to move the three tanks to Walker. That hearing may be held at the school rather than courthouse, due to an expected large turnout. Notices on the location will be posted prior to the meeting date.
The county board authorized seeking requests for proposal from vendors who would move the tanks and will open those proposals at the June 8 regular 9 a.m. board meeting at the courthouse in Walker.
The city of Walker has proposed digging up Michigan Avenue for city utility work about 2014. Administrator Robert Yochum said the county could consider connecting the health, human and veterans services building boilers to the courthouse propane tank at that time.
The line from the tank to health, human and veterans services would have to run about a half a block under Michigan Avenue to connect.
In other business Tuesday, the county board approved an off-sale liquor license for Lazy Moon Backstage Bar at the Moondance Jam property in Turtle Lake Township east of Walker. The township approved that license at an April meeting.
Chief financial Officer Larry Wolfe reported the county will receive $1,021,682 from the state tax forfeited property settlement in 2012, down slightly from the $1,201,930 the county received in 2011.
Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported the county is feeling the impact of lower interest rates on investments. While above slightly budget projections, the $311,171.64 the county earned on investments through April is lower than the $407,123.65 earned through April in 2011.
The board approved a conservation easement on 2.74 acres with 305 feet of shoreline on Child Lake in Woodrow Township for property Randy Ferrin and Katherine Trombly-Ferrin own. The property lies on the south shore of the lake.
Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson reported the county sold $241,876.99 worth of timber from county land at an April 26 auction. Price paid for aspen stumpage is up slightly at $28.34 per cord.