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Haakon County liquor license and budget approved

The Haakon County Commission met in special session Tuesday, September 13, to continue discussions involving a liquor license and the 2012 budget.

Bart Ramsey, Philip, applied for the county liquor license for his and his wife, Marcy's, hunting preserve and bed and breakfast business. Recently the state legislature implemented a hunting liquor license that counties can issue for hunting outfitter businesses. The license would be good for September 1 to March 31 of each year. Ramsey chose to apply for a year-round county license instead.

"I feel this is an opportunity for us to grow," he said. Ramsey said nearly 100 percent of his business is from out of state and 85 to 95 percent of that revenue stays local. "It is something that is starting to generate dollars for the economy," said Ramsey. His clientele also spends money in local businesses, he said.

Commission Chairman Gary Snook and Commissioner Steve Clements spoke out about possibly saving the license for a business that may in the future start outside of any town limits. "My question would be, who you are saving it for," asked Ramsey. "I'm local.  I'll be here for the rest of my life." Commissioner Rita O'Connell said, "This license is available. You came and asked for it and I just don't know where we have the right to pick and choose."

Snook said, "Kind of where I'm sitting at, other preserves in the county. You are on top of things, what do we do when others want it." Ramsey said that his business is more than just hunting and they are branching out. "It doesn't cover me completely," he said of the hunting liquor license.

Snook asked State's Attorney Gay Tollefson in regards to the hunting liquor license, "Are they (the state legislature) specifically saying that this is the license they (Ramseys) have to go with?" Tollefson said it could be either license. "You are going to have to decide. They have said what they would prefer and you saw that would limit their income. If you insist they go with this license, they won't be able to do other things they want to do out there. They are trying to build a business to do other things," Tollefson said.

Commissioner Ed Briggs asked, "What if someone builds and wants a license, or if it is taken back due to population?" Tollefson said she was not sure how the statute read in regards to the law and decrease in population. You have to consider there haven't been those requests. Aren't too many steakhouses lining up." Briggs said the chance of someone coming in and setting up a business was pretty slim. O'Connell said, "I don't think we have the right to deny. He came and applied for it, not right to say if business comes. He's here applying."

Snook said, "What happens if some business does open, if it does go through?" Ramsey said, "At this point, if this business isn't here, why is it more important than my business?"

Clements said, "Only reservation I have is, is not open to public." Ramsey said, "That is right, but people bring money in to town."

On a motion by O'Connell and seconded by Commissioner Nick Konst, the board approved Ramsey's request.

Library board members Hannah Griffin and Shirley Kangas and librarian Annie Brunskill met with the board in regards to proposed $16,300 cuts to the library. The commission's provisional budget reflected a loss of two hours per day and loss of health benefits for $16,300 a year.

Clements said the board was looking for funds to use toward gravel crushing next year. One of their first drafts had the county at a break even point. They then went back and looked at ways to save an additional $150,000. One of those ways was cutting insurance for only employees. "That wasn't favorable," said Clements, "So we went back and tried to come up with cuts...not critical for county doing business. Hoping to save $150,000, came up with a little over $100,000. Not going to hire back one highway employee. That was our goal, to come up with something to do roads."

Brunskill said she would forego her insurance, but requested to keep the two hours per day as she uses some of that time to proctor exams, teach computer classes and prepare for the summer reading program. The insurance would save about $6,500.

Konst said, "I think our hands are tied where we can cut and where we can't. We have to go somewhere." Brunskill asked the board if they had decided on the possible half-time deputy for the director of equalization and register of deeds offices. Briggs said, "I don't know where the money would come from."

During budget discussions the board cut $2,500 from the director of equalization supplies and $2,200 from travel. Also cut was $1,500 in courthouse repairs for a total of $6,200 Those funds were designated for a part time person for the director of equalization office, with the person possibly helping out in other offices.

With those final adjustments the board approved the 2012 budget. Total general revenue is at $1,054,826 and total expenditures of $905,082. That would leave $149,741 in remaining funds at the end of 2012. The highway department expected revenue is $864,767 with expenses of $668,099, with $196,668 in remaining cash at the end of 2012.

Adele Harty met with the board concerning disposal of items in the Extension office. They also discussed how the Extension reorganization will affect the local office.

The board entered into executive session for about 10 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken.

The board approved the emergency management yearly agreement between the state and the county.