St. Louis County Plans for 5 Year Capital Improvements

By KBJR News 1

March 19, 2013 Updated Mar 19, 2013 at 7:01 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- St. Louis County is looking to fund its largest ever single construction season.

County officials discussed that plan Tuesday during a meeting where they reviewed a five year Capital Improvement Program.

The Capital Improvement Program helps St. Louis county leaders identify problems that need to be fixed.

"We're working on determining the needs of our facilities to keep them updated so that they are always producing, being effective resources for the people of St. Louis County," Donald Dicklich, St. Louis County Auditor said.

County officials say they're taking a systematic and responsible approach to existing and projected needs to save taxpayers money.

"The board has taken a long term view of managing resources to be very judicious, when and if we issue debt at all,” Kevin Gray, St. Louis County Administrator said. “To really focus on using existing resources where practical and possible."

County officials have invested $45 million in this year's road and bridge construction program; the largest single construction season ever for the county.

They also hope to begin a $22 million renovation to the Duluth Government Services Center this year.

"Right now the way the building is chopped up, it's very difficult to get all of our staff in there,” Dicklich said.

Though it's a non-bonding year in the MN legislature, county officials are hoping to secure a roughly $3 million bond to help fund repairs to the Northeast Regional Correction Center.

"We maybe have a good chance at that and the reason why is, the state really likes to see partnering between other counties,” Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, County Board Chair said. “With the Arrowhead Regional Corrections, that's a five county collaboration."

County officials also discussed bills being introduced in the legislature, including the new Affordable Care Act.

The county will need to hire more staff to implement the program and start training before the medical assistance expansion begins in January of 2014.

"The legislature needs to be aware that their county partners have a significant work load impact and it will take some resources and dollars to make that happen," Gray said.

Starting in May, the board plans to hold public hearings about the CIP.

They hope to close on a bond sale in July.

Jennifer Walch
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