WALKER -- The Cass County Board Tuesday approved an updated capital improvement plan that would include maintaining a $1,060,000 annual capital improvement levy, plus a 3 percent inflation indexing toward setting aside $12 million over 10 years to build a 120-bed jail.
Each succeeding county board will have to continue adopting extensions of that plan annually over the 10 years for it to happen. Administrator Robert Yochum said the present board can authorize only levying or bonding for the 2006 budget.
Cass' current contract with Crow Wing County gives Cass the ability to use one wing in the new Crow Wing Jail through 2015. If Cass does set aside sufficient funding in the next 10 years to build its own facility in 2015, the county still would need to negotiate an extension with Crow Wing through 2017 to cover Cass' construction period, Yochum said.
Yochum reported the county capital improvement committee of the board met with Walker city officials, but "Michigan Avenue continues to be a problem" for the county's expansion needs inside the city.
It is one of the city's few east-west traffic options through the city, so vacating the street or rerouting it poses a problem in the city's view, he said. The county, however, seeks that, so any new building on property the county owns south of the courthouse could be connected to the courthouse complex.
Thus, the issue of where the county will expand or build remains unresolved.
Under the approved county plan, money collected at or about the existing bonding level and through general levies assigned to building projects would not be reassigned to operating costs, despite any future levy limits or operating shortfalls.
Current spending levels would be maintained for road construction projects, with projects delayed if state aids and current county funding levels fail to cover expenses. Projects would be delayed to future years in that event.
The county might offer an option to residents along a road to accept a special assessment for a road improvement.
Replacing or improving county highway garages at Cass Lake, Remer and Pine River will be contingent upon sharing facilities with other governmental units and the availability of funding. The county will compare costs for concrete versus pre-engineered metal buildings.
The county will pick a site from among seven potential options by Oct. 31 this year for a new land department building in the Backus area, with construction completion targeted for July 31, 2006.
Investment in the courthouse complex will be limited to routine repairs and maintenance. The county will levy and save for any improvements there.
Priority new projects the board will consider include first the courts, second customer parking on the courthouse front lawn and former Hope Lutheran Church property south of the courthouse and third a four-story law enforcement center and annex in the south parking lot on the existing courthouse block.
Management information systems capital projects will be funded by operations and undesignated general fund cash prior to highway garage commitments.
A public hearing on the plan will be held in conjunction with the Truth in Taxation hearing in December before the board takes final action to implement the 2006 plan recommendations.
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