202101. Social Services Redesign. North Dakota Counties recognize the Legislature’s outstanding commitment to social services redesign and remain supportive of changes that improve service, retain local access, and provide full state funding. This association is supportive of the several interim studies have been launched to identify necessary adjustments to the enabling legislation. County officials must be full participants in these studies.  For efficient and effective administration, compensation equity across the entire human service delivery system must be improved. Further, this association strongly urges that serious attention be given to the definition of direct and indirect costs to ensure that all county costs are clearly identified, and the unique situation of each county is properly addressed so that all costs are adequately covered.

202102. NDPERS Defined Benefit Retirement Plan. County officials have long recognized that all levels of government participating in the NDPERS defined benefit retirement plan have a joint obligation for its efficient and effective operation, as well as its long-term solvency.  This association therefore supports the interim study to assess its financial solvency and examine options for the future.  As counties, along with the other participating local governments, have a larger investment in the fund supporting this plan than state government, any decision to significantly alter the structure of this plan must be reached in conjunction with these local government entities.  The analysis of the long-term costs of various changes to the plan must also consider the implications that the changes may have on employee recruitment and retention.

202103.  Law Enforcement Recruitment & Retention. The chronic challenges that counties experience in recruiting and retaining sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers has been greatly intensified by the economic fluctuations the State of North Dakota has experienced during the last several years.  The Legislature has recognized this issue by prioritizing an interim study of these challenges.  We strongly support the legislative focus on this issue and urge the adoption of strategies that will help counties address the problem without greatly increasing the property tax burden.                              

2021-04.  American Rescue Plan Act. The historical passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will provide North Dakota counties with the opportunity to enhance the economy of the state while addressing needs created, or left unmet, by the COVID pandemic. The interim guidance and interpretation of Congressional intent is national in focus and may not address the most pressing needs in a large rural state like North Dakota.  We urge the US Treasury and our Congressional Delegation to ensure that the guidance allows this funding to be used in a manner that truly stimulates our local and statewide economy while addressing North Dakota priorities.   

2021-05.  Wetland Mitigation.  Protecting North Dakota’s wetlands and the wildlife they support is an important government function.  However, the current use of Non-Governmental Organizations and the costs associated with wetlands mitigation programs are making many projects cost prohibitive.  This Association supports looking for alternative funding and mitigation processes to ensure local infrastructure can continue to be developed while protecting our natural resources.