The Cass County Board met south of Cass Lake in Wilkinson Township July 21 to hear reports on recycling and solid waste dumping problems as well as CARES Act funding now available.
Cass County has received CARES Act funding in the amount of $3,692,442. Local businesses and nonprofits can now apply to the county for relief funds to help them with COVID-19 related loss and expenses. An application for funding is on the Cass County website at co.cass.mn.us with a brief overview of eligible expenses and qualifying criteria.
Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported an increase in recycling but also recycling contamination at county drop-sites. Residents have been throwing typical household garbage in with recycled materials, which contaminates it, resulting in thousands of dollars in expenses that the county has to pay. Residents pay a solid waste assessment fee to the county every year on their property taxes to help defer recycling costs, but when household garbage is put in with recyclable materials costs sky-rocket out of control. These costs could potentially shut down county recycling services.
Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane reported 2019 preliminary audit results. With state auditors unable to come on-site for a visit the audit was done via phone, email, and zoom.
The 2020 budget to actual report has property tax collections on track; reinvestment of matured securities are at lower rates than 2019; and departments are experiencing increased expenses while watching vacancies and department need to help balance budgets. Revenue generated by the Local Option Sales Tax has increased and the county has found funding sources to offset unanticipated costs, while some expenses may get covered through CARES Act funding.
Norikane concluded that due to a solid performance in 2019 the county is in a good position to deal with unforseen expenses and events this year.
Jeff Wig, Vice President for Entrepreneurship with the Initiative Foundation reported $153,000 in emergency relief funds, seed funds to support child care providers and $1.2 million in emergency funds to 56 small businesses. The Initiative Foundation has also changed its grant guidelines to allow more flexible options to deal with COVID-19. The whole Initiative Foundation report can be found on the county website.
County Highway Engineer Darrick Anderson reported that Structural Specialties was awarded the contract to replace the Soo Line ATV trail bridge that was destroyed by an arson fire in September 2018.
Structural Specialties bid $635,534, which was 1.5 percent under the County Engineer’s estimate and also lower than the other five bids.