Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Budgets, Human Services and the County Board

2012 County Budget 
The County Board, along with the Auditors Office and Department Heads, is working hard on the 2012 Budget.  Last Monday and a portion of Tuesday, the County Board held Budget Hearings.  These hearings will be completed on August 22.  A follow-up meeting with the Department Heads is scheduled for September 12.  Click here for the complete 2012 Budget Calendar.  These meetings are open to the Public.

Cook County Human Services Board
Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, along with Board members Diane Fitzgerald, Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Carla LaPointe, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the monthly Human Services Board meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Pat Strand, Anna Jorgenson and Janet Simonen.
Long Term Care and Waivered Services
Pat Strand, Eligibility Worker and Case Aide, gave an overview of her work.  Strand works to provide Long Term Care (LTC) and Waivered Services for the elderly, blind and disabled with the goal of keeping people in their homes as opposed to going to a Care Center facility.  Currently there are 34 cases of LTC and Waivered Services and 59 cases of other Medical Assistance and Food Support cases.  Strand believes that with recent legislative changes, as well as County demographics and the overall economy, that this caseload will most likely continue to increase.

Strand is the Long Term Care expert in the Human Services Department; her work has been appreciated in Cook County for 23 years.

July 2011 Financial Report
Fiscal and Income Maintenance Supervisor Jan Parish presented the July 2011 Finances.  Parish noted that the Cash Balance for the department is down slightly most likely due to the delay in funding caused by the State shutdown.  She also noted that the budget is on plan for the current year.

Director's Report
Human Services Director Sue Futterer presented some interesting information she gathered about the impacts and cost benefits of Home Visitation Programs. Currently in Cook County, pregnant or post-partum women and their families are being served by a Universal Home Visiting Grant awarded to Arrowhead Health Alliance.  Studies show that programs similar to this have multiple benefits including a significant financial payback.

Futterer updated the Board on the Region 3 Income Maintenance Redesign Project and requested the Board consider funding this project from the General Fund.  The Board will take this into consideration as part of setting the overall budget.

Futterer distributed (2) very useful documents for Board information:  2011 Legislative Session:  Summary of Laws and 2011 Legislative Session Summary:  Local Public Health Association of Minnesota.

Board Actions   
The Board approved an amendment to the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Agreement between Cook County and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic for bridging funds in the amount of $9,036.  The Board also approved a Purchase of Service Agreement between Cook County and Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) for supported work activities for MFIP Clients in the amount of $2,985.

County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Chair Jim Johnson and all Commissioners (Hakes, Hall,  Martinson, Sobanja) were present for today's regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.

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

Poplar River Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR)
The Board voted to re-adopt the Lower Poplar River Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR) along with its mitigation plan for another five year period.  This action includes incorporation by reference of two more recent water shed studies.

Highway Department--5th Avenue West Ditch Reconstruction
The County Board awarded the 5th Avenue West Ditch Reconstruction project to low bidder Edwin E. Thoreson for $53,337.81.  This project is slated to begin within a week and should be complete by mid-September.

Otis Creek Crossing CSAH 16
County Engineer David Betts provided the County Board with his assessment of the issues and potential solutions for the Otis Creek/CSAH 16 storm flooding.  Betts asked the Board to authorize a ditching project at the intersection of CSAH 16 and CR 69 to help alleviate the problem.  Because of the potential impact to private property owners, Commissioner Hall requested the neighbors be informed and solicited for input before moving forward.

Betts also recommended that work be continued to reconstruct the Otis Creek crossing at CSAH 16.  However, he recommended that this crossing NOT be reconstructed prior to the reconstructing the Stonegate Road and TH 61 Crossings. A letter has been sent to MnDOT.  A second letter will be drafted and sent to the Stonegate Homeowners Association.

Lastly, Betts noted that there are insufficient grant funds and Highway Department personnel available to do the ditching or construct this crossing and that State-Aid monies would need to expended which could put other projects in the Five Year Plan in potential jeopardy.

Sawtooth Mountain Bike Challenge
The County Board approved a special permit for the 2011 Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Race scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, August 27.

One Percent Local Option Sales Tax Projects
The Board approved a request to enter into an agreement with DSGW for interior design of the circulation and reference desks, as well as the work flow for the Library Expansion.  It is anticipated that this space will be built by local cabinet makers.

A Master Schedule of the One Percent Sales Projects has been created and reviewed by the County Board.  This Master Schedule identifies financial placeholders or projected costs and % of completion for (5) projects:  Cook County Community Center $11M, Library Addition $1.49M, Birch Grove Community Center $700K, Superior National Golf Course $1.8M, Broadband $4M.  The County Board and ORB Management also discussed criteria for prioritizing the projects.  Certainly any project needs to comply with the Legislation that was passed.  The Board also discussed the importance of giving priority to the projects that were identified when the public voted on the tax.

The County Board discussed the pros and cons of  (3) possible locations for the Community Center.  They also explored the possibility of locating the facility adjacent to ISD166.  There has not been a recent dialogue between the County and the School Board regarding this option, so the County Board will draft a letter to the School Board inviting them to explore this possibility further at the next Joint City/County/School/Tribe meeting already scheduled for August 25 at 4 pm in the City Council Chambers.

A work session to discuss the County Biomass Feasibility has been scheduled for September 20, 2011 at 1 pm.