The Cavalier County Commissioners met for their scheduled meeting on January 5. The first topic discussed was road maintenance for snow removal and gravel. Trying to answer complaints and keep the roads kept up has been difficult to do with the weather conditions constantly changing, specifically lose rock and freezing on the county road to Frost Fire. Commissioner Moser was called for roads to be cleared in the Wales area. Discussion of more direct communication to plow drivers and getting an earlier start to clear roads was suggested. District maps will also help to effectively plan by using teams to reduce confusion of who goes where. Priorities for snow removal will be considered with plow drivers and re-addressed in two weeks.
Old business brought up was the Commission needing co-sponsors going forward to the state legislature regarding the forest stewardship program. The commissioners discussed that it was not an accurate process, and changes need to be made for land tax purposes. It was explained that there are 7,500 acres that are counted in tree acreage that are truly in the forest stewardship program (formally known as forest nature program). The fairness of the program for farmers of farmland and community members of Cavalier County is not great. Individuals that have qualified for the tax breaks on wooded land aren’t always area residents, in turn making the residential people cover that tax. Without the agreement of the Cavalier County Commission, the stewardship program will not be renewed. Contracts contracted out 5 years can’t be broken but can still be voted to not be renewed. A motion to not renew was not made at this time and will be on the agenda for next meeting. Representative Monson would not be bringing the bill to legislature due to not having co-sponsors and said it would not pass so it was not presented. With this information they were informed the chances of the value changing through legislature likely won’t pass. Which was wanting an increase to 50 cents per acre on land tax.
Terry Johnston said there were not many new project updates concerning road projects in the county. He is still waiting on a sample of gravel from KLJ that is being tested from the state. This sample needs to be PI tested throughout the upcoming road projects for summer 2021 for contractors to work efficiently. The PI test is a relatively new test that tests mineral material and consistency in gravel.
A request from Ramsey County for Cavalier County to pay for half of a bridge on the far west county line that needs replacing was received. It is on a shared road but a road maintained by Ramsey County. A legal contract was suggested in case any bridge needs replacing again on any shared road that Cavalier County maintains so both counties will be responsible for sharing the cost. Cost efficiency and inventory was brought up regarding if it is more beneficial to share costs or if a different approach needs to be considered.
Terry Johnson also mentioned replacing three culverts on County Road 45 south of Milton. They are rusted out, and he hadn’t heard about funding for culverts. Suggestions on using a different material might be more reliable for longevity. The state legislature may provide funding for this kind of infrastructure.
Steph Bata presented the farmland soil type value evaluation schedule. Soil value decreased a small amount. A motion to approve the soil values schedule was made by Commissioner Goodman and seconded by Commissioner Stanley Dick. The motion carried.
Abby Borchardt brought concerns on why the public health office is involved in property sales in Cavalier County regarding inspections. Homeowners are not required to have any inspection at any given time but are required to for the sale of their home. In the sewage treatment state regulations, it is stated that if a buyer or seller does not comply with changes deemed by inspection, they could be charged with a class B misdemeanor. Steph from public health expressed that it was a board of health power that would have wanted sewage inspections. Cavalier County Commissioners don't have the power to change state sewage treatment regulations or rules, so Ms. Borchardt will be presenting it again to the public health board at their meeting on January 25. Regulations go through the legislature, and this may be one of the changes that have been recommended to be changed.
Greg Fetch presented the Sheriff’s office annual report for 2020. The Sheriff’s office is still in search of another deputy and dispatcher with no luck.
The commissioners approved the 2020 annual audit for July 2021.
Steph Welsh gave a COVID vaccine update, informing the Commission that 117 doses have been given so far. Public health is hoping to receive another 100 COVID vaccines this week. Vaccines will follow the priority list with individuals 75 years old and older next in line to receive it.
The next scheduled meeting is January 19 at 1:00 p.m.