September 21, 2017
Age doesn't stop 'Ride MN 4 Cancer' bike riders
The Montana Cafe in Cook, a popular place for travelers, was packed Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, by a large group of bike riders who call themselves "Ride MN 4 Cancer." They are riding across Minnesota to raise awareness of cancer research. This group started out in Oslo, Minn., on the North Dakota border. After Cook, they rode to Tower and stopped for lunch and then on to Ely. Their final destination was north of Silver Bay at Illgen City.
Most are cancer survivors and their goal is to raise awareness about cancer and research to cure this dreaded illness. They are donating any money raised to the American Cancer Society.
This is a long, 346-mile trip for these mature people, but they were all in high spirits. The ride attracted riders from Idaho, Montana, Iowa and Minnesota. The organizer for this trip is a young Warren McFarlane of Aitkin.
A big thank you goes out to them.
Andrew L. Lemieux receives Military Award
Andrew Lee Lemieux was recently knighted into the Order of St. George, given by the USA Armor Association, an award he received for his accomplishments over 20 years and his contributions to the Armor community.
A member of the Minnesota Army National Guard since he was 18, Andrew follows in the tradition of his father and his grandfather, who also served in the Army National Guard. Over the past several years he has served in three deployments to Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq.
Andrew's current rank is Sergeant First Class, working as a credentialed Assistant Inspector General for the 34th Division headquarters in Rosemount, Minn. He lives in Woodbury, Minn., with his wife, Jamie, and their children Braden and Jorey. Andrew states, "I would like to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions that my wife, Jamie, has made for my military service. I wish that they gave medallions to wives too."
Andrew's proud parents are Laurel and Glen Chilcote of Angora, and Jeff and Trudy Lemieux of Duluth.
The St. Louis County Board is getting closer to voting on the maximum property tax levy for 2018. During the Sept. 12 Committee of the Whole meeting, County Administration recommended a levy of $132.2 million. This would have a .5 percent impact on the property tax levy, thanks to the continuing increase in the property tax base in St. Louis County. As an example, the owners of a $200,000 home would likely pay an additional $1.12 next year - less than a dime per month - on the county portion of their property taxes.
Among the goals driving 2018 levy discussions are:
· Maintain the current level of services in core areas of Public Health and Human Services, Public Safety, Public Works and other taxpayer services.
· Direct additional resources to address substance abuse and mental health issues. This includes supporting innovative opioid treatment programs and partnerships, expanding Mental Health Court across the county, and the embedded social worker within the Duluth Police Department.
· Address critical infrastructure needs to better serve residents and preserve county history.
· Make additional investments to support families providing foster care; and offset state funding cuts impacting our vulnerable adults.
· Support targeted investments in programs serving youth, including Camp Esquagama, and expanded 4-H and Youth in Action programs.
· Further stabilize the county's health insurance fund while absorbing negotiated employee pay increases.
· Maintain strong financial practices and AA+ bond rating
The County Board's preliminary vote was unanimous in support of the recommended levy increase. The Board will officially approve the tax levy at its next meeting on Sept. 26 in French Township.
"Determining the tax levy for next year has been particularly challenging," said Commissioner Keith Nelson, who chairs the Board's Finance Committee. "We're seeing increased need for services at the same time some funding sources are shrinking. So this proposed levy demonstrates a focus on controlling of costs and making targeted investments while maximizing the positive impact of a growing tax base."
The proposed levy for 2018 is 4.45 percent higher than 2017. At the same time, the property tax base has increased 3.95 percent, offsetting all but a half of a percent of the levy increase. The levy revenue collected from property taxes makes up about one-third of the St. Louis County budget. Each year, in establishing a preliminary levy, the Board must find balance between its goals for the services it wishes to provide, and the tax impact on citizens based on the cost of providing those services.
By law, Minnesota counties must set their maximum preliminary levy - that portion of the budget collected through property taxes - by the end of September. As the Board and staff work to finalize the 2018 budget over the next few months, the levy amount may be reduced, but it cannot increase. Commissioners are set to vote on the final capital and operating budget on Dec. 19.
Two meetings have been set to collect public input on the levy and budget. They will be on Nov. 30 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Virginia, and on Dec. 7 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. Both meetings will start at 7 p.m. Citizens are also welcome to provide input at any County Board meeting or by contacting commissioners directly. Contact information can be found at stlouiscountymn.gov/countyboard.
More information about the levy, including the presentation given at the Sept. 12 Board meeting, can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/budget. St. Louis County serves 200,000 residents spread across 7,000 square miles. To learn more, visit stlouiscountymn.gov.
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