Tuesday, January 25, 2011

County Board Meeting and Towers Work Session

Today was an extremely productive day for the County Board with our regularly scheduled meeting and a Work Session.

County Board of Commissioners Meeting

MN Small Cities Development Program Application Public Hearing
A Public Hearing was held this morning to provide information and receive public input and comments on Cook County's submission of a MN Small Cities Application to the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development on behalf of the Lake and Cook County Joint Housing Initiative.  The application will request funds for owner occupied housing rehabilitation and commercial rehabilition.    Nancy Grabko informed the Board that the Lake/Cook Joint Housing Initiative submitted a pre-application last Fall and was invited to submit a full proposal in February 2011.  If successful, the program will fund some rehabilitation for 16 owner occupied homes (8 in Cook County) and 4 commercial properties.  The County Board unanimously passed a resolution to support this proposal.

Gravel Permits
The County Board approved (4) Gravel Pit Permits, (3) with modifications as discussed at County Board Meeting on January 11. 

Highway Department 
County Board unanimously approved the replacement of the Mezzanine Stairway in the Highway Department garage.  The temporary stairway was identified by OSHA as a serious hazard and violation of OSHA standard 1910.0024(d).  Cost to replace is $6500 and will be paid for from the Building Fund.

County Board unanimously approved the Capital Purchase Request for (2) 2011 Mack Dump Trucks.  This purchase is a scheduled replacement for existing plow trucks and was already approved for the 2011 Budget.  The price of these trucks is approximately $10,000 higher than the estimate.  David Betts and Russell Klegstad of the Highway Department will handle this overrun by the delay or elimination of purchasing other smaller equipment.  The Highway Department does have an equipment replacement plan extending out 14 years.

Adam Harju joined the Highway Department and Sheriff Falk to request a special event permit application for a mountain bike race to be held on June 11.  Cook County, through the Cook County Visitor's Bureau (CCVB), will be hosting the event in partnership with Lifetime Fitness.  Lifetime Fitness is an industry leader in developing and running world class mountain biking and running races and will be paying all associated costs for traffic control and other county personnel expenses.  Hosting this race will give Cook County extremely positive exposure to an anticipated 500 racers.  Research shows that each racer typically brings an average of (2) other visitors with them.  County Board unanimously approved the request for the permit application subject to road closure and traffic plan approvals. 

Community Center Project
Tom Wacholz and Rob Barse of ORB Management gave an overview of the proposed Community Center Design Team Selection process.  Both the Community Center Steering Committee and ORB Management have recommended Meyer Group/JLG Architects as the selected firms for the project.  Meyer Group will be the architect of record.  A draft agreement (Standard AIA Form) between Cook County and Meyer Group was presented and discussed.  The County Board voted unanimously to approve Meyer Group as the selected architectural firm and authorized ORB Management (as the County's Owner's Representative and Construction Manager) and Tim Scannell to negotiate a contract for County Board approval.  Meyer Group/JLG will also retain the following design firms:  Structural Engineer: Northland Consulting, Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Dunham Associations, Associate/Design Architect:  JLG Architects, Interior Design: Isola Design, Landscape Architect: Appold Design, Food Service:  DHA Associations, Aquatics:  Water Technologies, Inc.

As directed by the County Board last week, the Community Center Steering Committee formalized themselves by creating ByLaws and electing a Chair and Secretary.  The ByLaws were reviewed by the Committee and approved by the County Board.  Sue Hakes and Diane Booth were elected as Committee Chair and Secretary respectively.  Committee members are the existing members of the ad hoc committee.  Both Diane Booth and I talked about the importance of continuing to keep the process open and transparent and the value of the Steering Committee as it represents stakeholders and reflects our community.  It is important to note that all meetings are open to the public.  Plans are being made for public participation and input once a preliminary design has been created.

ORB Management submitted a 1% Projects Consulting Proposal to the County Board for review and acceptance.  The County Board discussed the proposal at length but made no decision.  More information regarding payment options was requested.  Generally, the Board agreed that ORB would provide value in their oversight of the 1% projects.  Involving ORB could be done on a project by project basis.

Braidy Powers presented the Cook County Investment Report and the Cook County Investment Policy for the Board's information.  Board discussed the need to protect the County's cash reserves and investments from the State taking it to balance their budget.

Powers also reviewed the 2010 General Fund budget.  Overall expenditures after some adjustments were at 104.3%.  Additional adjustment for accruals will be made during the audit process.

Towers Work Session
The County Board held its first work session; the topic was Communications Towers in Cook County.  This work session was requested by several department heads including:  Sheriff Mark Falk, Attorney Tim Scannell, Danna MacKenzie, Mary Black, Tim Nelson.  Also in attendance were Duane Ege, Jeff Nemitz and several members of the general public.  This work session resulted in identifying several issues surrounding communications towers and a need for better tower management.  A small work group was formed to explore creating a job description to meet the Administrative and Technical needs for tower management.  The Communications/E911 Committee will be working on tower issues in the future.  County Board representatives on that committee are Jan Hall and Sue Hakes.