The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners discussed CARES Act funding distribution during their work session Tuesday.
According to Administrator Kay Mack, the county received over $5.86 million in funding from the federal CARES Act, which must be used for qualified expenditures related to COVID-19.
The county plans to remodel some of their facilities to allow for more social distancing, which is a hefty portion of the $4.4 million planned for compliance for health measures, as well as technology improvements to allow for working from home.
Another $557,000 will be allocated to Public Health, $725,000 to payroll, and another $200,000 in loans to businesses and nonprofits.
Mack also said after the county’s needs were looked at, the area’s school districts would also be issued sub-grants for COVID-19 related costs.
The Board also discussed the upcoming Census, and Minnesota is in danger of losing a congressional seat by less than 600 Minnesotans.
Redistricting may also have an effect on local elections as well, as Mack pointed out that while it hasn’t yet happened in Beltrami County, a redistricting of a commissioner district could pit two current commissioners in an election against each other.
The Census is underway until the end of September, and it’s imperative that every Minnesotan gets counted. Find out more at census.gov.
During the regular meeting, a few citizens with business approached the commissioners.
The first citizen, Selena Beasley, stated that the Bemidji City Council held a public listening session on a police advisory board, and wondered if the county would look into taking up a similar measure for the Sheriff’s Department.
The second citizen, Christian Taylor-Johnson, agreed with Ms. Beasley, but also brought up a Facebook post, which accuses Commissioner Jim Lucachick of participating in a racist discussion.
Commissioner and Chair of the Board Craig Gaasvig said that citizens cannot bring up personnel complaints in that setting.
Luachick, at the end of the meeting, said that he never said those things, and that one of his architecture clients was concerned with the allegations.
Other items the board discussed:
- Update on the Bemidji Area Child Care Initiative, which works to address the childcare shortage in the region. Some progress is being made in the state legislature to change the definitions of “infant,” from 0-2 to 0-18 months, which may add additional infant slots. Daycares in the county have 226 infant slots, but Sanford Health Bemidji recorded 887 births in 2019.
- Update on the specialty courts. Beltrami County has a DWI Court, Domestic Violence Court and a newer Drug Court. Trisha Hanson explained that specialty courts handle far fewer cases than regular court, and while they are more expensive to run, these courts produce immeasurable positive outcomes such as helping defendants be employable, or by keeping families intact.
- Update on remonumentation process. The county has completed the remonumentation of 30 townships, with four proposed in the next contract. Remonumentation is the process of defining property boundaries, a process that has not been done in some areas for 100 years.