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Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co., Published May 09 2010

Traill mail-in vote on courthouse project set June 8

HILLSBORO, N.D. – A proposal to build a $2.16 million county office building/addition on the Traill County Courthouse appears to be sparking interest in the county’s first-ever mail-in voting for the June 8 primary election.

The county is hosting a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Traill County Courthouse to present the county office building proposal.

As of Friday, 890 requests for mail-in ballots had been received by the county auditor’s office.

“That’s pretty good, especially for a non-presidential election year,” Auditor Becca Braaten said.

A total of 1,197 votes were cast in the 2006 primary, which did not offer mail-in voting.

One polling place each will be open in Mayville and Hillsboro during the election for people who do not mail their ballots.

The auditor’s office mailed 4,585 mail-in ballot notices to county residents.

The new proposal, which requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass, is a scaled-down version of the $6.35 million bond issue that voters rejected twice in 2008.

The county plans to use a

$2.16 million, 15-year federal Recovery Zone Economic Development Bond to finance the project. The funding comes from federal economic stimulus funding.

It would save taxpayers about $290,000 in interest charges, according to Braaten.

If approved by voters, the 15-year bond would cost:

  • Homeowners $23.67 annually for a $100,000 home.

  • Rural landowners $28.06 per year for each quarter (160 acres) of land.

    The 13,150-square-foot addition would provide space for Traill County Social Services, which now shares an overcrowded 1954 courthouse addition with the county Sheriff’s Department, E-911 Center and the county jail.

    If approved, the new county office building would attach to the existing courthouse and provide handicap accessibility through a new elevator that connects the buildings.

    The county also has plans for remodeling the 1954 addition and jail, but its is a separate project and not included in this financing proposal.

    The county plans to use a $74,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Grant toward the $450,000 project that includes a new roof, exterior walls and new floor for part of the 1954 building. The county has money in its building fund for the project.

    The 1954 building has posed accessibility, crowding and security problems for the jail, 911 call center and the county Social Services department, all of which shared the space. The remodeling project will address all three areas, officials said.

    Bonham writes for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.