Beltrami County Board to discuss budget, jail in tomorrow’s meetings

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners is set to meet for their work session and regular meeting tomorrow, beginning at 3 p.m.

The board set the preliminary budget and levy increase for next year to 3.96 percent during their last meeting.

County Administrator Tom Barry said in a memo that it was a favorably low increase compared to previous years, at 5.83 percent for 2019, 5.85 percent for 2020 and 4.94 percent for 2021.

“By far, one of the highest costs to the county is personnel,” said Barry, who noted that current labor contracts prescribed a 3 percent cost of living adjustment.

The county board will set the final budget and levy during their first meeting in December. The levy and budget may decrease before that meeting, but they cannot increase.

The board will also review a contract with construction engineers as the county prepares to address issues at the Beltrami County Jail.

The jail project consultant will manage the scope, schedule, budget, meetings and public education and outreach during the duration of the jail project.

The Beltrami County Jail is a 132-bed facility, originally completed in 1989, but DOC regulations have limited the number of beds the jail can maintain.

The county was tasked by the DOC with evaluating and determining possible improvements to the existing jail, including the potential need for new construction or renovation.

The consultant, Construction Engineers, Inc. from Grand Forks, was selected earlier this year, and once the contract commences, the jail steering committee will take the lead in overseeing the project going forward.

Funding for the consultant will come from the county’s strategic aligned management fund, according to Barry’s memo in the county packet.

The consultant’s fees will be $111,000 each year for this multi-year project.

The Beltrami County Board will also consider terminating their medical contract with MEnD Correctional Care for the jail.

MEnD has been providing services to the jail since 2012 when Beltrami County Public Health was no longer able to provide nurses.

County staffers are recommending switching to Advanced Correctional Care.

ACH would require an additional $70,000 budgeted annually, but ACH employees have more qualifications for mental health care.

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