Tuesday, June 28, 2011

County Board Meeting and Preliminary Budget Worksession

County Board Vice-Chair Jan Hall ran today's County Board Meeting in Chair Jim Johnson's absence.  Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present.

Open Forum
No member of the Public opted to speak at today's Open Forum.

County Highway Department
On June 17, 2011 the Cook County Highway Department received five proposals in response to their Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Highway Department Facility Study and Master Site Plan.  County Engineer David Betts informed the County Board that the review committee for this project met, scored all (5) proposals, and recommends Oertel Architects/Albertson Engineering for the work.  The County Board authorized Betts and the County Attorney to negotiate a contract for this work not-to-exceed $25,300.

Betts, along with support from Anne Zellner and Russell Klegstad, presented the "2010 Annual Report of the Cook County Highway Department".  Highlights of the report included personnel changes and finances.  It also included summaries of 2010 construction & maintenance programs, gravel crushing, snowplowing, calcium chloride application, pavement and aggregate road surface improvements, and culvert projects.

Betts also reported the Highway Department will be negatively affected by a Government Shutdown, should that occur.  The Highway Department has (3) projects started or scheduled to start in July.  These projects will require QA Inspections and Independent Assurance tests which are typically done by MN DOT.  Betts is working to find acceptable alternatives for this testing to avoid delays in the projects for CSAH 8, Junco Creek Crossing and striping. 

Fiber Optic Network Commission
Since the FON Commission was created in 2009, efforts to build broadband infrastructure in Cook County have moved from the County to North East Service Cooperative and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative.  Because of this, the activities of the Commission have shifted from preparing to run a telecom business to monitoring, advising, educating, and assisting to ensure broadband infrastructure is built, that it meets the needs of the County and its citizens, and that we have the skills and knowledge to leverage broadband-based technologies once they arrive.  Howard Hedstrom, Chair of the Fiber Optic Network (FON) Commission, with support from IS Director Danna MacKenzie requested the County Board review and accept the FON Commission recommended language to reflect these changes in the Ordinance.  The Board approved this change and a public hearing is scheduled for July 12 at 8:35 am to officially adopt the recommended amendments.

Cook County Visitor's Bureau (CCEVB)
Sally Nankivell, Executive Director of the CCEVB, presented the CCEVB Income and Expenses for FY 2010-11.  She also asked the County Board to approve the CCEVB Budget for FY 2011-2012.  The County Board acknowledged the accomplishments of the CCEVB and approved the Budget unanimously.

Cook County Board of Equalization
The County Board recessed the Board of Commissioner meeting and reconvened the 2011 County Board of Equalization meeting in which they accepted the recommendation of County Assessor Mary Black for adjustments in the Estimated Market Values for (2) west end properties.  Afterward, the County Board of Equalization was adjourned and the County Board of Commissioner's meeting was reconvened.

1% Sales Tax Projects--Community Center
Commissioner Hakes reported on the last meeting of the Community Center Steering Committee to note that they continued their in depth review of site options.  Hakes said that David Demmer of the Office and Planning & Zoning attended that meeting to inform the Committee about the process for delineating wetlands in the NW Corner for possible building of a softball field or the Community Center Building. 

WORKSESSION re:  Cook County Finances/Budgets/Priorities
The County Board, along with County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, Sheriff Mark Falk, and several Department Heads and Supervisors (Simonen, Futterer, Nelson, Betts, Klegstad, Booth) discussed the 2011 Budget Process.  Clearly, the Department Heads are looking for feedback and guidelines from the County Board in setting their budgets for the coming year.  Guidance from the County Board is especially important with a pending State Government shutdown as well as the on-going constraints on the County Budget including potential reductions in revenue, levy limits, increased costs, increasing demand for services, etc.  It was agreed that the County Board would gather input from the various departments and meet again to discuss this in a Special Meeting of the County Board at 10 AM on Friday July 8.