Tuesday, April 26, 2011

County Board Meeting with Community Center Discussion

Vice Chair Jan Hall chaired today's County Board meeting in Board Chair Jim Johnson's absence.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to address the County Board at today's meeting.

USFS Secure Rural School Program
The Board approved a request to solicit public comment for Cook County's Proposed Use of Funds from the US Forest Service Title III:  USFS Secure Rural School Program.  Approximately $104,000 in Federal Title II funding is available, but may only be used to a) carry out specific activities under the Firewise Communities Program, b) reimburse the County for Search and Rescue and other emergency services performed on Federal lands, and c) develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP).

Personnel Issues
The Board approved recommendations made from the Personnel Committee to rate the new Assistant County Engineer/Project Manager position, to upgrade the Chief Deputy County Recorder and Registrar of Titles position, to keep the Assistant County Assessor at its current level, and to upgrade the Assessor's Technical Clerk/Appraiser position.

Per MN Statute, the County Board voted to reappoint David Betts as Cook County Engineer for a term of four years.

The Board approved a request to advertise for the open position of Deputy Auditor-Treasurer/Bookkeeper resulting from notice of resignation.

Highway Department
The Board authorized several requests from County Engineer David Betts:
a.  Approval of USFS Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to improve aquatic species passages at county roadway crossings on CSAH 6 and CR 75.
b.  Authorization to advertise and receive bids for calcium chlroide, gravel crushing, and special service district summer maintenance.
c.  Approval of contract for geotechnical services for CR 70 at Flute Reed River, CR 60 at Durfee Creek, CR 75 at Little Devil Track, CSAH 6 at Little Devil Track.
d.  Approval of New Roads Cost Accounting Software.
e.  Authorization to purchase (2) Kenwood radios.
f.  Approval of Special Events permit for the Ham Run Half-Marathon on May 1, 2011 and lastly,
g. Approval to develop a proposal for professional services to prepare a Facility Master Plan for the Highway Department with ORB Management and potentially others.

The Board approved the 2011 First Quarter budget report.  Overall expenditures after adjustments were at 24.8%.  The Board also reviewed and agreed to the terms of the 2010 Audit as presented by the Office of the State Auditor to Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.  The Board also moved to reimburse the North Shore Hospital from the original local sales tax fund for the purchase of a tub system for the Care Center in the amount of $17,466.

Sag Lake Parking Lot Maintenance
The Board approved a Contract for Services with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters to maintain the Sag Lake Parking Lots I and II for $230/week. 

Cook County Higher Ed Course on Contractor Bonding
The County Board authorized payment of $250 to cover the cost of a Contractor Bonding course being offered on Wednesday, May 11, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.  The cost for attending this course is FREE.  The pre-bid meeting for the One Percent Library Expansion project will be held at 3:00 pm this same day.

Community Center Update
Tom Wacholz, ORB Management, and Tim Meyer, Meyer Group Architects presented  an update on the One Percent Community Center project.  In their presentation, they overviewed the planning and design work to date, schedule, site layout, floor plans, program spaces, and financial analysis of the project.

Presented to the Board, was the Schematic Design recommendation from the Community Center Steering Committee (CCSC).  This recommendation for site layout, floor plan, and program space was based most heavily on community input gathered from stakeholder surveys, stakeholder representation on the Steering Committee, public input given directly to the Steering Committee.  In other words, the Steering Committee has been listening and has been working to give the community what we believe is wanted in a Community Center. 

Most importantly, the Steering Committee has been working on the financial feasibility of the proposed Community Center.  This study includes projections for:  Cost to Build, Operations & Maintenance Costs, Revenues.  As part of today's meeting, an estimate of the financial picture was presented.  This summary shows a Cost to Build of approximately $11 million which is within the $8-12 million budget, although still higher than is desired.  However, the Operations & Maintenance Costs are still too high and the Steering Committee recognizes this.      

The Steering Committee has a full day meeting tomorrow, April 27, to continue refinement of the design.  Alongside the design work, the Steering Committee and the Financial Subcommittee will work to find ways to improve the bottom line.  Areas of focus to improve revenues and lower the O&M will include close examination of staffing needs, possible inclusion of the Senior Center, increasing revenues, incorporation of energy efficiencies into the building, and exploration of other funding sources.

The County Board voted 3-1 (Martinson voted nay) to move the project from the Schematic Design Phase to Design Development and also to hold (2) Public Meetings to show the Public the Schematic Design and Financials for the project.   Overall, the County Board was favorable of the site plan, floor plan, and programming.  Concern was expressed over the O&M costs, and the lack of participation from the City of Grand Marais.  These concerns are valid, recognized and will continue to be worked hard.

The County Board unanimously confirmed that the Steering Committee is heading in the right direction with respect to the facility itself, and the need to cut the O&M.

Public meetings will be scheduled for:

In Grand Marais
7 pm, TUESDAY, May 10 in Commissioner's Room

On West End
7 pm, WEDNESDAY, May 11 at Birch Grove Community Center

All members of the Public are encouraged to attend these meetings to learn more about the project and give us feedback.  We want to hear from you.

Bonding Process for 1% Sales Tax Projects
Ehlers & Associates was present to give the Board a general overview of the bonding process for 1% projects.  Ehlers & Associates is in the process of gathering information about this type of General Obligation Bond to ensure the County has all the information necessary to make sound financial decisions when bonding for these projects.