Wednesday, July 13, 2011

County Board Meeting

County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regular County Board Meeting.  Also present were Janet Simonen, Braidy Powers and Tim Scannell.

Public Comment
Hal Greenwood, Matt Hueltner, Gary Gamble, Evelyn Larson and Irene Thompson came before the County Board to present survey information from their "Stop the Madness" Campaign in opposition to the proposed Cook County Community Center.  Members of the County Board shared the group's concern about Operation and Maintenance Costs and re-stated their determination to build a facility that is financially sustainable without any increase to taxes.  Gamble said that their group wasn't always aware of the on-going decision making process; Hakes extended an invitation to attend any of the Steering Committee Meetings which are always open to the public.

A Public Hearing was held to consider adopting proposed amendments to the Cook County Fiber Optic Network Ordinance.  The purpose of the Broadband Commission is "to advise and educate on the development, adoption , and use of broadband and directly related technologies".   The County Board approved this amendment which becomes effective upon publication.

Maintenance Department
Maintenance Director Brian Silence presented a quote to purchase a new County car for $21,197.  The Board passed a motion 4-1 approving this purchase with Commissioner Hakes opposed.  Hakes said she couldn't support the purchase without a clear understanding of the current fleet, associated costs, and alternatives to purchasing (lease, employee-owned cars, scheduling).

Highway Department
At County Engineer David Betts' recommendation, the Board approved the easement agreement with the Forest Service for the Junco Creek project and approved entering into an agreement with Midwest Trenchless Technologies to clean and televise the CSAH 12 storm sewer .  Betts and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad gave an overview of the on-going construction and maintenance projects noting that calcium chloride applications began 7/11/11 and should be complete this week.

Office of Planning and Zoning
Planning and Zoning Director Tim Nelson reminded the Board that the Poplar River Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR) which was initially adopted in June 2006 is up for renewal if it is to continue as an active environmental review document.  Nelson recommended the Board re-adopt the original AUAR document and mitigation plan for another five years as well as adopt by reference two additional studies that had been conducted in the Poplar River area and provide more recent information for review in conjunction with the mitigation plan.  After discussion, the Board approved the motion unanimously.

Nelson also reported the North Shore Management Board (NSMB) is considering whether or not to initiate another amendment process to the existing North Shore Management Plan.  The Board recommends no change to the Plan at this time.

Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP)
CCLEP is in need of a Staff person to increase their ability to carry out their mission.  George Wilkes, CCLEP Chair, requested the County Board provide $1000 in matching funds toward a 1/2 time Coordinator position to manage CCLEP activities.  CCLEP intends to apply to the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation for the balance of $19,000.  Wilkes' request was approved by the Board.

AT&T Tower Leases
Mark Hemstereet of Insight (representing AT&T), Sheriff Mark Falk, and Duane Ege provided an update of the (2) new towers being considered for construction at Gunflint Magnetic and Gunflint Mid-Trail.  The logistics of building these towers is complex, but the general gist of it is that AT&T would pay for the construction of these towers.  In return for building the towers, any rents to be paid by AT&T would be abated for 25 years.  The estimated cost to build each tower is $200,000.  The County will have full ownership of these towers and retain the right to all rental income from both the current towers and the new towers.

Schroeder Township Survey
Citizen petition votes have been tallied at 67% in favor of the corner restoration survey in Sections 7-8-9-17-19 T58N R5W.  A letter is forthcoming to all landowners in those sections and a Public Hearing has been scheduled for August 9 at 10 AM at the Cook County Courthouse.  For questions about this process or the survey, contact Cook County Surveyor Wayne Hensche at 387-1172 or County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers at 387-3646.

Budget Calendar and State Shutdown
Department Heads are working on their 2012 Budgets for submission to Braidy Powers by July 29. 

The negative impact of the State Shutdown grows as the Shutdown continues.  Department Heads and the County Board are working to continue the provision of County Services in the least disruptive manner within the budget constraints and unknowns.

One Percent Project
Commissioner Sobanja reported that construction of the Library Addition project is going well.

The County Board discussed a letter received from the Cook County Community Center Board of Trustees regarding the benefits of attaching the proposed Community Center to ISD166.  Beth Schwarz was present for this discussion and took the action to meet with the School Board to determine their interest and willingness to explore this option further.  The next Steering Committee Meeting is slated for July 27.

NE MN Area Transportation Partnership (NMATP)
Lutsen Township Supervisor, Diane Parker, applied for the position of Cook County Rep to the NMATP.   The Board approved this unanimously.