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Wadena Board approves 2015 budget and levy at year's last meeting

Wadena County Commissioners completed the business of 2014 and prepared for the new year at their meeting Dec. 22. They approved a 2015 budget of $20,917,117 and a 2014 pay 2015 property tax levy of $8,017,992. The vote on the levy was three comm...

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Wadena County Commissioners completed the business of 2014 and prepared for the new year at their meeting Dec. 22. They approved a 2015 budget of $20,917,117 and a 2014 pay 2015 property tax levy of $8,017,992. The vote on the levy was three commissioners in favor, and two against.

The levy amount represents the first levy increase in several years. Because of wage increases negotiated with the county's bargaining units, increases in the prices of equipment and materials, and increases in utilities and commodities that the county must purchase (such as electricity, natural gas, telephone service), the majority of the board concluded that it was time to raise the property tax levy so that the county government can continue to function.

The county has no bond debt and is in a strong financial position as 2014 ends and 2015 begins. State auditors have evaluated the county's financial procedures and found them to be in good shape.

Much of the final board meeting of the year was taken up with social services reports, contract renewals, and discussions.

In other business, the board:

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• Approved an annual contract renewal for consumer guardian Allan Lynk and a two-month renewal for consumer guardian Lezli Zimmerman.

• Approved service agreements with Medica, Lakes and Prairies and Someplace Safe.

• Approved renewal of a contract with the City of Wadena for the Sheriff's Department and County Attorney to provide background checks for the city when requested.

• Approved the recruitment of a new child protection social worker.

• Approved the hiring of a new child support officer, MaryAnn Murphy.

• Approved the transfer of Christine Fox from the position of eligibility worker to the position of child support officer.

• Approved the recruitment of a new eligibility worker.

• Approved the purchase of a second set of aerial photographs to be completed in the year 2015 at a cost of $35,760, to be paid for over a three-year period through the recorder's compliance fund.

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• Took no action on a request for an allocation in 2015 from the Menahga museum.

• Approved the homestead application of Michael J. Kinnunen.

The first official board meeting of 2015 will be held on Jan. 6 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse. The county officials elected in November 2014 will be sworn in on Monday, Jan. 5, at 8:45 a.m. at the courthouse. The public is welcome to attend.

Related Topics: WADENA COUNTY BOARD
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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