WALKER - The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to withdraw from membership in Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force and move two deputies assigned to the task force back to duty with the Cass County Sheriff's Department.
The action came in response to projections that the county's cost for membership would increase significantly over the next four years.
Membership has been based on a per population charge, which has remained at $1.67 per resident in member counties and cities since the task force inception. Costs were projected to rise to $2.17 in 2007, $2.67 in 2008, $3.17 in 2009 and $3.67 in 2010.
While Cass could have expected a $271 refund on membership dues based on task force annual costs in 2007, the county could expect annual increases until the county would be paying $34,966 - in addition to higher dues and costs - for an officer assigned to the task force in 2010.
The board personnel committee, consisting of Commissioners Jim Dowson and Jim Demgen, discussed the projected increases with Sheriff Randy Fisher, Chief Deputy Tom Burch and Administrator Robert Yochum before recommending withdrawal to the full board.
Fisher said Tuesday that he expects that Cass Investigator Mike Diekmann, who has been assigned as team leader for the task force the last few years, and the regular deputy assigned to the task force can accomplish more for Cass County's drug enforcement here when assigned to work only within the county.
As a part of reassigning the two officers, the board also voted to carpet additional office space at the new land department building in Backus for a sheriff's department satellite office.
Voting equipment, which was to be stored in that area of the Backus building, will be moved to the courthouse complex in Walker.
The board voted to eliminate separate titles and pay grades for recreational and road sergeants, re-designating all as sergeant and setting pay for all at the same grade.
The commissioners voted to pay Crow Wing County $35,829.48 in payroll expenses, $1,144.32 for physical exams and $960 for psychological exams for eight new correctional officers hired and recently trained to work in the Cass wing of the new Crow Wing County Jail.
The board passed a resolution requesting the Minnesota Supreme Court to adopt revised rules to allow greater use of interactive television in the state's courts.
County Attorney Earl Maus said the state association of county attorneys will testify May 15 before the Supreme Court in an effort to obtain a ruling to permit greater use of interactive television for preliminary court appearances.
Not only would greater ITV use benefit counties like Cass, where many inmates will be housed in a neighboring county, but also the 15 counties in the state without a sitting judge assigned to their county.
Cass Jail Administrator Bert Woodford obtained board approval to sign an amended food service agreement with A'viands, which provides a $175-per-day payment to A'viands when Cass has up to 24 inmates, $200 per day for 25 to 49 prisoners and $225 per day for more than 49 prisoners. In addition, there would be a $1.05 per meal charge.
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