Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cook County Board of Commissioner's Meeting

County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
Lance Johnson addressed the County Board during the Public Comment period expressing his concerns about 1% funding being spent on the Community Center and Superior National Golf Course, ORB Management, and the City of Grand Marais contract with Burbach Aquatics.

Fire Update
Melissa Groves of the USFS gave the County Board an update on the fires in both Lake and Cook Counties.  She also informed the Board that a Type II Firefighting Team will be on standby in Grand Marais beginning today.  Information about these fires may be found  at:  http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2534/  Information may also be found on the Boreal Homepage, the WTIP North Shore Community Radio Homepage, or on the dial at 90.7 FM.

Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
The Board authorized a request from Kerrie Fabius, District SWCD Manager, to support the submission of a Clean Water Fund Grant to upgrade 4 County boat landings (McFarland Lake, Clearwater Lake, (2) on Saganaga Lake).  The Board approved up to $15,000 to be used as a match for this effort.  Funding will come from the Forest Access Road Fund.  Fabius will also explore opportunities in the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage funding.

County Attorney's Office
The County Board accepted, with regrets, the resignation of Victim Witness Coordinator Susan Maijala.  The Board also authorized County Attorney Tim Scannell and Personnel Director Janet Simonen to create a job description to expand the position of Victim Witness Coordinator to 35 hours/week by combining it with a ~1/2 time Paralegal position.

PUBLIC HEARING on Intent to Issue Capital Improvement Bonds
A Public Hearing was held to provide an opportunity for the public to express their views concerning (i) the County's Capital Improvement Plan for the years 2011 through 2015; and (ii) the County's intent to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,450,000.  No member of the Public spoke at this Public Hearing and the Board passed a Resolution to accept the plan and to state their intention to issue such bonds.  By issuing these Capital Improvement Bonds, the County expects to obtain total savings of approximately $122,445 and eliminate the need for a debt service reserve fund.

Schroeder Township Survey
The County Board authorized a Professional Service Agreement for a Survey in Township 58N Range 5W with Wayne Hensche, Registered Land Surveyor.  The cost of the survey will be up to $57,000 with the work to be completed by July 30, 2012.

Hospital Sales Tax Request
Cook County Hospital requested reimbursement of $9659 from the Hospital Sales Tax funds to pay for their 1/2 of the installation of their new facility sign.  There is $359,000 remaining in the Hospital Sales Tax Fund to be used to fund capital requests.  The County Board approved this request.

Revolving Loan Fund
The County Board approved a Revolving Loan Fund Request for the owners of the Crooked Spoon Restaurant in the amount of $66,800 as recommended by the Revolving Loan Fund. 

Preliminary Budget and Levy
The County Board adopted its 2012 Preliminary County Budget and Levy at an increase not-to-exceed 2.75%.  In a series of Budget Meetings, the County Board has worked diligently with its Department Heads to increase revenue and cut spending without serious interruption to services. To date the Board has identified over $300,000 in adjustments that will reduce the Levy increase.  This work will continue with the Final Budget and Levy to be set in late December.

Abatement Application
The Board approved an Abatement Request from Peggy Lundy for the Cliffdweller Motel by a vote of 4-1 (Commissioner Hakes opposed).  The Property Owner requested changing the classification to Ma and Pa Resort from Commercial for assessment 2011/taxes payable 2012.  Deadline for submitting this application was January 15, 2011.

Secure Rural Schools Funding 
The County Board determined its allocations for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Funding and will notify the Forest Service of the following:  Title I (85%), Title II (8%), Title III (7%).  As noted in a National Association of Counties Press Release dated February 16, 2111,

"The Secure Rural Schools Act was passed in 1999 to replace lost revenues to counties and schools because of dramatically reduced timber harvests on federal lands. Since its passage, funding from Secure Rural Schools has allowed counties to continue to provide vitally important public services such as health care, search and rescue operations and maintenance of roads and bridge. 

The impact of Secure Rural Schools goes beyond counties and schools. It helps protect vulnerable national forests through enhancement projects and wildfire protection efforts and provides thousands of jobs in the 41states that receive funding under the legislation."

Office of Planning and Zoning
After a long discussion, the County Board voted 4-1 (Commissioner Johnson opposed) to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Dennis LaBoda to establish a dog kennel operation within the Forest/Agriculture Residential (FAR-2) zone district.  The Board approved the CUP as recommended by the County Planning Commission with one additional condition that the dog kennel shall not be less than 500 feet from an existing residence of an adjoining property owner."