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Wolford School taxpayers to receive refund

By Staff | Aug 15, 2020

The Pierce County Commission voted last week at its regular August meeting to issue refunds to property taxpayers in the former Wolford School District.

Pierce County Auditor-Treasurer Karin Fursather told the commissioners her office had received a check for $307,777.47 from the former district. The commissioners voted to refund the money to property owners who paid taxes to the district in accordance with North Dakota Century Code. The auditor’s office would apply the refunds to any tax balances still owed.

Fursather cited the Century Code section concerning the disbursement in a later email to the Tribune. She said the county followed NDCC 15.1-12-28, which states, “A balance of up to $10,000 is set aside for one (1) year at the County Auditor’s Office to pay any bills remaining after the dissolution.”

“The balance is less than $10,000, as I have had to pay bills that came after the dissolution,” Fursather added.

Fursather said the disbursement also followed NDCC 15.1-12-29, which concerns “unobligated cash balances – tax credits or refunds. $307,777.47 was disbursed to the taxpayers of Wolford School District.”

The board also approved a tax abatement application by Rugby property owner Michael Hughes.

In other business, the board approved a motion to authorize Commission Chair Dave Migler to sign the change order on a roadway reshaping and regraveling project on county roads for $54,744.35.

The board also voted to move $150,000 from the highway distribution fund to the road and bridge fund.

The board voted to transfer $10,000 from the county wireless fund to the Emergency 9-1-1 fund and adopted a resolution to place Pierce County Measure 1 on the general election ballot in November.

The measure proposes a 50 cent increase on a county communications service fee for telephone line access, wireless access voice over internet protocol service (VOIP). Pierce County residents currently pay a $1 communications fee.

The 50 cent increase would meet a mandate in the North Dakota Century code to fund the implementation of “a statewide interoperable radio network,” according to the measure.

In other business, the commissioners heard a report from Mike Graner, administrator of Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center. Graner reported the inmate population at the facility reached a high of 95 and a low of 86 in July. The jail population as of early August sat at 92. The jail saw 30 bookings, 28 releases and eight new inmates for July. Graner reported 24 personnel working at the jail, adding two officers would be attending basic training in Minot.

Graner also reported an inspection by the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had been completed. Graner noted he had received three bids from suppliers for a new hot water heater for the facility, and chiller systems at the facility had been repaired. The commission voted to purchase the new hot water heater from Johnson’s Plumbing in Rugby for $21,700.

Graner reported the facility showed a budget deficit of $21,751.93 for the month of June.

The board heard from North Prairie Human Service Zone Director Kelly Jensen, who requested housing a home and community-based service employee at the Pierce County Social Services office. Jensen said the county would incur indirect expenses for telephone, postage, paper and other services. The state would reimburse the county at 25 percent.

The board also voted to advertise to fill the extension agent vacancy in the North Dakota State University Extension office. Former extension agent Yolanda Schmidt left the position in July.

Jessica Tagestad of Wold Engineering updated the commission on reshaping and regraveling for a county road running north and south to Orrin. Local firm B and J Excavating would request payment of $318,603.47 from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

In related business, the commission learned five county motor grader operators would receive training Aug. 20 and 21 for credit in the North Dakota Local Training Assistance Program’s “Road Scholar” program.

States Attorney Galen Mack heard from Migler, who asked if an organized township road near Antelope Lake could have signage forbidding fishing or parking from the road. Mack answered yes to the question, stating signage is permitted on public roads.

Fursather presented information on county employee health benefits that may be included in the county budget. A public budget hearing is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 10 a.m.

The Pierce County Commission will hold its next regular meeting Sept. 1 at 8 a.m.

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