IRRRB mulls 2015 budget, projects, school funds

IRRRBThis Monday the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board will consider its Fiscal Year 2015 budget at its regular meeting at the IRRRB headquarters south of Eveleth, Minnesota.

Next year’s budget tallies in at almost $41 million, about $2.5 million less than this year. Major changes include a continued focus on shifting funds to K-12 and higher education initiatives, and the approximately $7 million set aside to incentivize schools with collaboration or consolidation, something I wrote about earlier this week.

In addition, the board will vote on more than $10 million for development, highlighted in the IRRRB press release below:

EVELETH, Minn.—Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich announced today that the IRRR Board will consider funding for the Fiscal Year 2015 budget at its Monday, June 23 meeting in Eveleth.

According to Sertich, the proposed budget reflects IRRRB’s commitment to investing in a better future for northeastern Minnesota. Development projects and programs and education are first priority, accounting for two-thirds of agency investments. Investments in the Giants Ridge Recreation Facility and agency operations comprise the rest.

“A highlight of this year’s budget is that a significant amount of funding is allocated for our regional education systems,” said Sertich. “This gives us the opportunity to invest in innovative projects that will help us grow the next generation of residents and our workforce.”

In other business, a $130,000 grant to the city of Cook will be considered. The grant will be used to provide infrastructure, utilities and site work for the redevelopment of the Vermilion Motel, which was destroyed by fire in 2013. The new two-story motel will be constructed at the same location as the previous motel. The $1.5 million project is forecasted to create 10 construction jobs and six permanent jobs.

A $350,000 grant to the city of Virginia to accommodate the $8.9 million consolidation and expansion of Ulland Brothers also will be considered. Ulland Brothers, which provides services to the construction industry, plans to construct a heavy equipment maintenance garage and warehouse facility and a new administrative office building. The project is forecasted to create 58 construction jobs and seven permanent jobs.

In addition, the IRRR Board will review $1.875 million in funding for several proposed Iron Range Higher Education programs.

The IRRRB is a state agency funded by mining revenue generated inside the “Taconite Tax Relief Area.” Iron mines don’t pay property taxes despite the vast amount of land they occupy. By statute, mines pay a production tax on the ore they remove from the Iron Range, which is distributed to local communities and the IRRRB. The IRRRB funds are designated to assist with community development, economic diversification and mineland reclamation.

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