Healthcare marketplaces have been open since the beginning of October and although applicants faced early challenges enrolling, the process is moving ahead. As one of 32 states that opted to default to the federally-run exchange, uninsured and eligible North Dakotans go directly to the healthcare.gov website to find a policy that best fits them. Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center and Coal Country Community Health Center, said it could be prudent for those without insurance to wait a brief period. “It’s still our mindset to encourage people to ‘hurry up and wait’ until the bugs get worked out,” Bertsch said. “You’ve got until Dec. 15 to enroll in a plan and be eligible Jan. 1.” Although Dec. 15 is the deadline to enroll to receive coverage starting with the new year, open enrollment will continue until March 31. After that those not enrolled who remain uninsured will receive a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or one percent of their income. Megan Dierks, the Outreach/Enrollment Specialist at CCCHC, went through specific training to walk people through the application process.
The Mercer County Courthouse and Jail expansion could cost upwards of $10 million. County commissioners reviewed designed plans with Scott Fettig of Klein McCarthy Architects October 16 during a regular meeting in Stanton. The Bismarck company president said the project could be completed as early as November 2015. “We have to remember why we are doing this,” Commissioner Bill Tveit said, referencing security and safety for the jail and courthouse. The additions would connect the Law Enforcement Center to the courthouse, making it easier to transfer prisoners from the jail to the courtroom.
City councilors in Beulah heard brief updates on the designated usage of a certain city building this week in a relatively quick meeting at city hall. Council president Clyde Schulz ran the meeting due to the absence of Mayor Darrell Bjerke. Schulz kicked off portfolio reports by reminding the councilors of a special meeting this Friday concerning special assessments. Councilor Kathy Kelsch spoke about intended usage of the civic center, noting there had been an increased interest from multiple groups lately. “When policy was established it didn’t include anything about serving alcohol there,” she stated. “When we went through the policy we included that with the assumption that it was okay. A question came up on whether or not restrictions had ever been in place on serving alcohol at the location. The concern is on the liability.” Kelsch added that if the city were to be held liable for anything during events where alcohol was served, something would have had to go wrong on the city’s part. Kelsch then asked the council if anyone felt there was a conflict in opening up the civic center for events where alcohol was served versus letting private industry handle it. Councilor Roger Gazur noted that the city wasn’t in competition and allowing groups to utilize a city building and use alcohol after getting a permit was allowable.
Fundraising and funds raised were a large topic of discussion when the Beulah Education Foundation met recently. The topic was given extra attention to clarify that although donations were generally all put in the same account, they could be, and have been, earmarked for what the donor intended. Elementary Principal Amber Skalsky spoke to the foundation board on behalf of elementary staff who were concerned over certain financial responsibilities that had previously been clear under the organizations of Dollars for Scholars and the PTO. “A lot of people are worried that all the money is for scholarships and they feel like they’re losing control of the funding,” Skalsky said. “The book fair, for instance, brings in about $1,000 total from fall and spring. For us to say we’ll get $500 back is something that brings up questions.” Foundation chair Janet Staloch noted that the foundation board was working to clear up some of those misconceptions concerning how the finances were broken down and would be happy to meet with staff or community members to speak about that topic in particular. Business manager Carrie Miller said that different checking accounts wouldn’t be kept for each different topic or fundraiser. The foundation board had already effectively earmarked funding to ensure that scholarships were separate from the book fair and the carnival, among other activities. Staloch noted that the foundation allowed for a long-term investment, which changed the financial philosophy. “We used to raise money to spend money,” Staloch said. “Now we’re raising money to earn money and grow money and are able to fund the activities we’ve always funded.”
Board of Education approves budget By Chris Erickson Beulah’s Board of Education voted unanimously to approve this year’s expenditure and revenue budgets early last week. Superintendent Todd Kaylor led discussion on the topic by noting which numbers had shifted this year in the expenditure side of things. After an explanation on how that had increased slightly the board moved to accept the expenditure report. On the revenue side of things, changes in such places as Ag Education, Family and Consumer Sciences both showed slight increases and Office Education showing a slight decrease. “Despite our increase in taxable valuation, we’re going to be projecting a deficit of $360,412.67 versus last year’s at this time of $326,539.12,” Kaylor noted. “The finance committee and the board have talked about this extensively. Between the committee and the administration we feel comfortable with the risk of a short-term deficit of this amount considering the conservative nature of our budget process and also coupled with the interim fund balance.” The board then moved to unanimously accept the revenue budget before moving on to the certificate of levy, which was also unanimously approved. The board had to discuss the topic earlier than planned in order to get the necessary filings into the state. Next up was discussion on the Imagination Library, specifically commendations from the administration toward the group running the program. Board director Stacee McLaughlin, who serves on that committee, said there were fundraisers coming up including a 5K and a grooup pinochle tournament.
New charges have been filed against a man accused of being part of a Beulah shooting that killed one and wounded another in late January of last year. Last week Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputies took Cody Borner back into custody after Borner was released due to the state Supreme Court overturning his prior conviction of conspiracy to commit murder. He is being held on a $250,000 cash bond, according to the office of the Mercer County State’s Attorney. Borner and Richard Whitman had each been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder for their alleged involvement in the shooting death of Michael Padilla and wounding of Timothy Padilla. Whitman’s conviction has not been overturned at the time of this publication.
Among major discussion topics this week by the Beulah City Council was initial talk on a developer’s agreement for proposed development along the 11th St. NE area south of the old Boeckel Trailer court between Parkway Drive and Blackstone Lane Councilor Kathy Kelsch brought forward a draft developer’s agreement for the area between the city and developer Howard Covert, noting it was important to consider why affordable housing was needed in the city. Kelsch then asked for input from the council on any questions they had regarding its language. Issues brought up included the amount of funding for infrastructure to be held in eschrow, an indemnity provision, legal and engineering fees and establishing a venue for contract disputes.
Last week Beulah residents had a chance to have their questions heard during a public hearing on a proposed mill levy increase. The public hearing was held due to the proposed increase in this year’s mill levy by the city of Beulah. Mayor Darrell Bjerke noted that the exact total mill levy would not be figured out until the county finalized its budget, but what was being presented was in the form of dollars and cents to easier explain. He added that the city had tried to “hold the line” in the past, but quite a few new factors contributed to an increase in mills, such as salary increases and funding for the dilapidated building initiative.
Last week the Beulah Centennial Committee met to discuss further planning for next year’s big party in August. One major topic included the centennial book, which was coming together. The book committee encouraged families and businesses to get their biographies in as soon as possible, as the final date for accepting submissions was approaching quickly. On the entertainment side of things, that committee was in the process of booking approximately 18 musical acts for music starting Thursday night and continuing both Friday and Saturday from noon until midnight. Music is planned for two stages on Main Street, as well as the Grandview Steakhouse.
The Beulah Board of Education focused in on two major topics during its last meeting - the Imagination Library and a public hearing on mill valuation increase. Superintendent Todd Kaylor noted that the increase of 12.76 didn’t necessarily mean a tax increase of the same percentage. “In essence it takes the mill levy from last year, calculates the same amount of revenue as requested in this year,” Kaylor said. “The percentage is the increase in mills levied based on that comparison for the 2013 tax, which is a misrepresentation that there is a significant tax shift in property taxes to state responsibility related to educational funding. Patrons can expect to see a significant decrease in property taxes despite this posted 12.76 percent increase.”