Tuesday, September 27, 2011

County Board Meeting

Chair Jim Johnson was absent today from the County Board meeting.  Vice-Chair Jan Hall ran the meeting.  Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were present.  Also in attendance were Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen and Tim Scannell.

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

Association of MN Counties (AMC)
The Cook County Board welcomed Jeff Spartz, Executive Director of the Association of MN Counties, to today's County Board Meeting.  Spartz views visiting the various counties throughout the State an important part of his job as Executive Director, stating that "it's where the work is done".  He encouraged the Commissioners to continue their participation in the work of AMC. 

Proposed Social Host Ordinance
After review and discussion, the County Board moved to start the process to allow adoption of a Social Host Ordinance for Cook County.  Among other things, a Social Host Ordinance makes it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place.  Both County Attorney Tim Scannell and County Sheriff Mark Falk are recommending the County and the City of Grand Marais adopt a Social Host Ordinance.  A Public Hearing is scheduled for 11:00 am on November 8, 2011.  A comprehensive educational component will be conducted with the adoption of this ordinance.

Economic Development Authority (EDA) Budget Request for 2012
EDA Director, Matt Geretschlaeger, along with several members of the EDA Board were present for a presentation of the 2012 EDA Budget Request.  The EDA is requesting the County levy $148,566 for the EDA which includes a 1/2 time Director Salary of $34,000 plus Employment Taxes and PERA.  The County Board questioned several of the line item expenses.  The County Board also asked about the efforts to sell lots in the Business Development Park.  No decision about this request was made but will be discussed as part of the overal 2012 County Budget. 

Nancy Grabko was also present at this meeting.  She gave a detailed overview of the success of the Cook County/Grand Marais EDA Housing Program for the past 3 years noting that the average return on investment for this program for every dollar spent is $8.40.  Grabko, within the EDA Budget, is requesting $20,000 to be used as matching funds for housing projects.  These funds would provide the required local support for multiple grant applications. 

Highway Department
The County Board approved a capital purchase request for a plasma cutter ($2738) and pallet racks ($5383) for the Highway Department.

The County Board also reported to County Engineer Dave Betts and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad concerns raised by the public about County Road #8 including reports of flat tires.  Betts and Klegstad updated the Board on the status of the project, including the Class 5 gravel that has been put down.  Betts and Klegstad urged the Public to heed the speed limit signs for safety purposes and to reduce any damage to tires.

Bond Resolutions
Carolyn Drude of Ehler Financial Advisors was present to answer any questions regarding issuing bonds for  a) $1,420,000 for the "refinancing" of the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center to save an estimated $127,000 over 4.5 years, and b) $8,500,000 for Sales Tax Revenue Bonds for the proposed funding of One Percent Projects including the Library, Birch Grove Community Center, Broadband Grant to Arrowhead Electric, and the Community Center.   Both bond resolutions were adopted by the County Board.