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By Dan Reed 

County moves on jail tax


November 1, 2019

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pursue Minnesota Legislative approval for the ability to levy a half-percent sales tax, contingent on local voter approval, to build a new Carlton County Jail.

The Minnesota Legislature has decided to give authority to only levy the sales tax on the condition that the project serves a regional need.

County Coordinator Dennis Genereau explained that a female offender program located at the new jail but available for the incarcerated females of NE Minnesota would fulfill this Legislative directive. He said it is surprising to find female programming limited or non-existent throughout the state and the country in general.

Genereau went on to say that treatment and programming for the males incarcerated and the chemically-mentally ill incarcerated is woefully weak. It is hard to find placement for the many who need the services.

“But in reality, the choices for the female incarcerated are few to none,” Genereau said. “Overall, not addressing the programming needs for incarcerated females, as well as the males, increases the chance that people in jail become repeat offenders. The cost of handling these repeaters has been rising dramatically and has an effect on our social fabric.”

The County Board passed the motion unanimously with District 2 Commissioner Marv Bodie making the motion with a second from District 5 Commissioner Gary Peterson.

“I have no problem having the jail proposal studied from every angle,” Peterson said. “We need to spend the time to know all the facts. This new jail building, program, and staffing is a big commitment for the people of Carlton County and it is our job to make the best possible choices.”

In other matters Monday, County Attorney Lauri Ketola got approval to have the new Chief Deputy County Attorney salary set at a Step 6. Ketola said that she expected the Chief Deputy to work an average of 50 hours a week, about the same level that the County Attorney works. Ketola said she wanted the Chief Deputy to focus on criminal matters.

Administrative assistant to the County Highway Engineer Mark Linne is expected to retire in early 2020. Part of his duties has been as the Airport Commission Secretary. The County Board approved hiring a replacement.

A design is needed for the upgrade of 14th Street in Cloquet. The County Board approved joining the city of Cloquet in hiring an engineer to design a plan for the project.


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