BAXTER - Baxter officials are unhappy that the DNR is not paying its assessment on the South Perch Lake improvement project.
Though state- and county-owned properties are exempt from being assessed, the city of Baxter last year sent a notice to the DNR that the state-owned public access on Perch Lake would be assessed $19,307.
When no objections were received by the DNR about the assessment, Baxter forwarded it, along with all other assessments for the project, to the Crow Wing County Auditor's office for certification.
In February, the DNR informed Baxter that it would be a "good neighbor" and pay 25 percent, or $4,827, for the water and sewer benefit of the project.
"What bothers me is we are required to follow the system, the process, and they didn't respond at all," said council member Gary Muehlhausen at Tuesday Baxter City Council meeting.
Baxter officials also were upset that the state, despite being aggressive about protecting lakes, had declined to pay the full assessment for a project that would protect Perch Lake.
The council discussed several options for addressing the situation, including asking for the full assessment amount, writing a letter to local legislators or deferring the assessment on the property until it was sold.
City Attorney Brad Person said state statutes are specific in stating counties and the state do not have to pay city assessments. He said sending the DNR letter telling them to pay the assessment would be a waste of time.
"They'll just ignore you, they won't pay it and they don't have to. It's a real clear law," Person said.
In the end, the council unanimously accepted the DNR's check for $4,827, approved a future connection charge for the public landing if the DNR would put in water or sewer and sending a letter to Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd and Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, outlining the city's displeasure in the DNR not participating in projects that improve the quality of lakes.
In other action, the council:
Sanctioned the Cal Ripkin 12 and under Minnesota State Baseball Tournament at Oscar Kristofferson Park from July 18-July 21.
Heard a brief presentation from Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl. Dahl's presentation focused on the Crow Wing County Jail, which opened in May of 2007, and the new programs and policies in place there.
Heard from Laura Oldham, a Knollwood Drive resident and mother of five, who is concerned about child safety while walking to Baxter Elementary School now that busing routes have been altered by the district as part of school budget cuts.
Police Chief Jim Exsted said he would be meeting with school officials and there would be training for the Safe Route Program to deal with the issues. Olson said local ministers have discussed allowing children meet at churches to be escorted to school by adults.
Was informed by City Administrator Dennis Coryell that the Brainerd School District is interested in funding a police liaison officer at Forestview Middle School for three to five hours a day.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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