WALKER -- The Cass County Board and department heads Monday prepared the following action plans at their annual retreat at Hope Lutheran Church in Walker to reach four major goals this year:
To develop a jail plan this year, Cass County will have to get a commitment from neighboring counties who want to join in building a regional jail, or the county will have to build its own, separate jail.
A location has to be selected and timelines for construction set this year.
To achieve this, a needs assessment for the amount of space required must be done, other counties have to make a definite decision, the Cass board has to set a construction timeline and findings from the recent National Institute of Corrections study of Cass' correctional system needs must be implemented.
Those involved in helping the county reach this goal this year besides the county board include committed neighboring counties, all Cass County criminal justice and social services personnel, citizens, the sheriff and jail staff.
Land subdivision revision
To revise the subdivision ordinance to address the issue of agricultural land transitioning out of traditional small farming, new ordinance and comprehensive plan language must be written.
A revision process must be developed to offer options with input from citizens, the county planning commission and county board.
Criteria must be developed and applied to an updated land use model.
Those involved in this process will include landowners, public groups, townships, developers, county planning commission and county board.
More cluster sewer systems
To increase the number of cluster sewer systems, priority areas must first be identified and landowners and lake associations educated on the benefits of cluster systems over individual systems.
First, technical criteria must be prepared to evaluate housing density, soil types, water table levels, water quality considerations, funding necessary for each potential cluster system and resident cooperation to support a cluster system evaluated.
Residents and town boards need to be informed about how cluster systems work and how both construction and operations can be funded.
Sites where cluster systems can be located must be identified.
Those involved in developing more cluster sewer systems include environmental services department, land department, lake associations, the Initiative Foundation, individual sewer treatment system professionals, townships and cities and public land managers.
Balancing the county budget
Projected county revenues must equal proposed county expenditures. There must be minimal disruption to core county services.
To achieve this, there will have to be short- and long-term contingency plans to address potentially changing county revenue sources.
Services in key areas must continue. Progress needs to be made on the county capital improvement program, especially on plans to build a new jail.
The board must verify which current county services are mandated and which are being provided at the board's option. The board needs to look at initiating and raising user fees to offset some anticipated state funding cuts.
Cass should continue efforts to seek state or federal payments in lieu of tax for tribal lands and/or seek more financial participation from Leech Lake Reservation for county services tribal members receive.
The county board needs a better education on which services each county department provides.
There should be minimal use of county reserve funds and minimal property tax increases as the county deals with expected lower state support for county programs.
Involved in balancing the county's budget will be the county board, state and federal agencies, department heads and staff, county budget committee, media and public comment, unions and the tribal government.
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