Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Orr Council tables Cook Hospital Board request

Looking to amend legislation to include more townships, including Greenwood, Alango, Vermilion Lake

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ORR- The Orr City Council tabled a request from the Cook Hospital District, requesting the council send a letter of support to state representatives Senator Tom Bakk, Rep. Rob Ecklund, and Rep. Jason Metsa asking to amend legislation to require all townships/residents of the original hospital district area be assessed.

Hospital Board Representative Barbara Johnson submitted a letter for the city to send to Bakk, Ecklund, and Metsa. In the letter, it states that the Cook-Orr Hospital District was created through legislation back in 1988. However, “Since the district’s beginning, the tax burden for staffing, operating, and maintaining the facilities has not been born equally by all taxpayers in the hospital district, yet all residents of the original hospital district benefit.” The letter continues, “Five townships in St. Louis County (Greenwood, Vermilion Lake, Alango, Sturgeon, and Morcom) and some unorganized townships in Koochiching that were included in the original districting, are not now, (and never have been) assessed their fair share of the tax burden for operating the hospital district.”

The council had a mixed reaction to the request, which led to the item being tabled. The council wanted to wait to hear further citizen feedback from the upcoming annual township meetings.

In other business the board:

‰ Approved an application from the Orr Lions Club for a gambling permit.

‰ Approved the appointment of Benchmark Engineering for the airport project.

‰ Approved a Five Season Sports proposal of $8,645 for a John Deere Z925M lawnmower. The unbudgeted mower will be paid with funds remaining from the difference between 2017 budgeted revenues and expenses fund ($2,353) and from the unrestricted funds balance from 2016 ($6,411).

‰ Approved the request to change on and off-sale credit card processing to Safe Harbor Business Solutions out of Duluth. It is reported the Liquor Store will save money in processing fees.

‰ Approved a request from Wally’s Auto for a one-time adjustment for an undetermined high usage on their water bill.

Department heads

‰ Liquor Store head Charles Neiman reported January and February sales were up from the same time last year.

‰ Ambulance Service report noted the new ambulance is substantially complete and anticipate delivery at the end of March.

‰ Fire Department head Dallas Johnson reported the year end reports were completed. Had 42 runs in 2016. They are working on minor repairs to the fire boat. Also wanted to thank Bill Hoffer for all the work he did on the Ranger, installing equipment for emergency response.

‰ Tom Kennebec reported he took a recent tour of the ORR Center, and was very impressed with the progress.

‰ The 2017 Local Board of Appeal & Equalization-Open Book meeting for the City of Orr will be April 12, from 3 – 4 p.m. at the County Assessor’s Office in the Old City Hall.

Comments

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shaking my head

Most of the Tower area residents of Greenwood Township do not use the Cook Hospital. I never have, do not intend to, and hope they find a way to support themselves with the actual users of their facility .

Saturday, March 18 | Report this
Steve Jacobson

I can see both sides to this. Greenwood Township does extend to Oak Narrows so there most any emergency near there maybe extending to Frasier Bay would go to Cook which is a level 4 trauma center. No one likes to pay extra taxes including me but I believe it would not hurt for them to give a small amount to the hospital, ambulance and fire departments. I also know Greenwood has enough of their own problems without getting involved in other business.

Monday, March 20 | Report this
Lee Peterson

It is with profound exasperation and sadness that I view this underhanded, dealing from the bottom of the deck, attempt by the Cook-Orr Hospital District to snare five organized townships and a number of unorganized townships into their tax district. This attempted money grab will not go over well in Greenwood Township.

Greenwood belongs to the Tower Ambulance Service, paying for it on a per capita basis. The service is excellent. Part of the beauty of it is the coordination with the Virginia Ambulance Service. If the sickness or injury requires it, the Virginia Ambulance, with paramedics in it, is dispatched to meet the Tower Ambulance in route to the VIRGINIA Hospital. This is a lifesaving and quality of life option that is worth its weight in gold.

The Cook-Orr Hospital District has attempted this money grab several times before, the first time being when Greenwood was still a three person Town Board, consisting of Mike Salo, Darrel Branville and Paula Blozinski. It was rejected then, obviously.

Furthermore, the question was put specifically into the Greenwood Community Survey that was part of the new Greenwood Comprehensive Plan that we built in 2015. Question 13 of the survey was point blank: "SHOULD GREENWOOD JOIN THE COOK HOSPITAL TAX DISTRICT? (FOR EXAMPLE THE 2015 COOK HOSPITAL TAX FOR A GREENWOOD PROPERTY VALUED AT $300,000 WOULD BE $297.48 IF GREENWOOD WAS A MEMBER)" NO-481, YES-84.

The Cook-Orr Hospital District's below the radar attempt at snaring others into their tax district should not, and will not stand.

Lee Peterson

Greenwood Township

Monday, March 20 | Report this
John Bassing

Mr Jacobson,

The Cook Hospital District gave up any side on this issue when they unilaterally decided to take away the rights of Greenwood and the other townships to vote on the issue. This right ( as granted by Mn Statute 447.31) was afforded to all the organized townships within the District back in 1990. Whatever problems we may have in Greenwood, we will resist any effort to take away our right to vote and that is the end to any sides in a debate.

Sunday, April 2 | Report this