BACKUS - Though Sylvan Township considered it a maintenance fee, the Cass County Board on Tuesday re-emphasized it will pay no rent or other charges for a county deputy's use of city or township properties for an office.
The township asked for $100 per month to cover cleaning, utilities, miscellaneous supplies and extra parking lot maintenance, such as plowing.
The county deputies serving southern Cass have been using space at Pillager City Hall, but the county had paid monthly rent there and decided to switch to Sylvan Township when a rent-free offer was made. The board asked Sheriff Randy Fisher to re-negotiate with Sylvan to eliminate all charges or to find a third location in southern Cass where the county would not be charged anything.
Lake Shore Police Chief Steven Sundstrom wrote a letter to Cass County Board seeking permission to book prisoners directly into the new Cass jail wing of the Crow Wing County jail when it opens this spring. He also suggested using interactive television and having a judge for Cass inmates stationed in Crow Wing County to save transportation costs.
"Our police department and city council are anxiously waiting for this facility to be utilized in a beneficial way for the city of Lake Shore and all the south end police departments and deputies," Sundstrom wrote. The board referred the letter to Fisher to follow-up on the requests.
Members of the Shingobee Township Board appeared before the commissioners to express concerns that they had not been fully informed about the county's need under state law to seek annexation of Ah-Gwah-Ching property into the city of Walker if the county pursues its plan to move county government buildings to that site over the next 30 years.
Tim Orton, Shingobee board member, noted the site is the township's only JOBZ-designated site at this time. The township had been planning to encourage development there.
Shingobee board member Orv Rosenberry said township officials believe the existing sewer and water service at Ah-Gwah-Ching should be adequate for any new development there. The township would be willing to assume its operation, he added, noting the township opposes annexation.
County Administrator Robert Yochum reported the state facility closing at Ah-Gwah-Ching has been moved back to July 2008 in the last reports he has received. If Cass County is going to move to buildings on the site over time, the county-occupied area would have to be annexed, he said, because the city of Walker is the recognized county seat. It would take a county-wide voter referendum to change the county seat.
The county has voted only to study costs and designs for a court building at Ah-Gwah-Ching so far.
The Benedictine Health Systems' feasibility study will not be complete until late March and Congress has yet to act on legislation to permit a critical access hospital there, Commissioner Jim Dowson said of the proposed health care complex for the site.
Cass County will include information with this spring's property tax bills to inform homestead property owners and residential property renters about how to determine whether they qualify for one or both state property tax refunds.
Commissioner Jeff Peterson had expressed concern that many people do not realize they might qualify for a refund.
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will present a tribal flag in a 3 p.m. ceremony Feb. 23 in Judge John P. Smith's courtroom at the courthouse in Walker in recognition of the fact Cass County District Court and Leech Lake Tribal Court have jointly initiated a Wellness Court to assist convicted repeat DWI offenders with alcoholism recovery.
Smith and Leech Lake Tribal Chief Judge Korey Wahwassuck preside over the problem-solving court, which serves both the district court and tribal court, non-Indian and Indian defendants. The flag will fly in Smith's courtroom in the future.
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