Friday, January 13, 2012

County Board Meeting in a Busy Week!

It's been a busy week as we settle into 2012 and get back into the routine of County business and regular committee meetings.  This week, I attended several:  NE Waste Advisory Committee, Arrowhead Health Alliance, North Shore Collaborative and Heart of the Continent.  In general, these meetings are important for collaboration between counties to address areas of mutual concern.  If any of you is ever interested in learning more about these committees, please don't hesitate to call me.  I'd be happy to share.

As promised earlier this month, I'm providing the current 2012 County Commissioner Assignments and updated 2012 Board & Commissions Assignments.

January 10, 2012 County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the regularly scheduled County Board Meeting on January 10.  Jim Johnson was absent due to health issues.  Also present for the meeting were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to address the County Board at this meeting.

Highway Department
The County Board authorized the hiring of Bill Parish on a temporary basis for up to 10 hours/week for up to six months.  Parish will assist with various engineering tasks, including the Gunflint Trail Project, to help close the gap left by the vacant Assistant Engineer position.

The Board authorized capital purchases for survey equipment ($112,423) and a used shop truck (up to $46,200).  All items were in the budget for 2012.

The County Board passed a resolution in support of the reconstruction of CSAH 5 north of Brule Run Bridge and the application for Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) funds for this project.  Estimated cost for this project is $650,000 with funds to come from Lutsen Mountain, LRIP, State Aid and Gas Tax monies.

The County Board approved a request for 2012 Mile O'Pine road assessments to be spread over 2 years (plus interest equal to the current bond rate plus 2%).  This is consistent with the proposed Subordinate Governmental Service District which allows qualifying assessments to be assessed over a period of no more than 5 years.

Forest Service/County Land Exchange Agreement
The County Board approved the "Agreement to Initiate" the Cook County Land Exchange with the Superior National Forest.  This document was reviewed by Attorney Jill Nguyn of the Attorney General's Office on behalf of Cook County.

Cook County Zoning Ordinance
On the recommendation of Planning Director Tim Nelson and County Attorney Tim Scannell, the Board adopted the proposed language changes to Cook County Zoning Ordinance Section 4.09(C)(1) and Section 4.17(C)(1)(c).  The intention of this proposed amendment is to place the processing and evaluation of all aspects of Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) within the two-mile extended jurisdictional area of the City with the City itself instead of forcing applicants to be processed by both the City and the County.

Warming House/Recreation Building Proposal
Members of the Hockey Association presented a design proposal to the County Board for a Warming House/Recreation Building.  Elements of the proposed 4427 square foot building include a garage space for the Zamboni, changing rooms, men's and women's restrooms, a multi-purpose room, concession area, rental area, and storage areas for hockey, softball, soccer, little league, teeball, parent pitch and baseball.  Rough cost estimates provided by Architect Tim Meyer are ~$1,200,000 for the building, parking and ice.

This proposed Warming House/Recreation Building definitely meets some of the long-awaited needs for hockey and other sports user groups.  This proposal surely fills a gap in our recreation infrastructure and would definitely enrich our hockey, softball, soccer, tennis and little league programs; this is all good.  But, while this proposed facility would serve the needs of some, it does not meet the needs for many others within our community.  And duplication of programming between the existing Community Center, the proposed Warming House/Recreation Building and a new Community Center need to be addressed.

The County Board has scheduled time between 10:30 and 12:30 during it's January 24 Board Meeting to discuss the One Percent Sales Tax Projects--including this proposal-- further.

Wetland Mitigation
Community Center Director Diane Booth presented information regarding Wetland Mitigation steps and costs for the rest of the Community Center property including some property owned by Cook County ISD #166 Schools.  No decisions were made.

Braidy Powers, County Auditor/Treasurer
The County Board approved an agreement with Synergy Graphics to provide Ballot Layout and Ballot Printing services.  Cook County, along with most MN Counties, use Synergy Graphics for this very specialized service.  The agreed upon rate is the same as in 2010 and will not change for four years.

The County Board accepted grants from the Legacy Grant Program and Local Program for Lutsen Trailbreakers and Banadad Trail Association, respectively.

Worker's Compensation for Elected Officials
Elected officials are paid on an annual salaried basis and do not receive Paid Leave, Sick Leave,  extended Sick Leave, or Comp Time benefits.  Therefore, if they are on workers comp, they only receive 2/3 of their normal wage and are not able to supplement their income in the same manner as all other county employees.  The County Board voted to pay an additional taxable wage by Cook County so that the combination of workers comp payments and county wages will approximately equal the officials average salary.

Courthouse Security
Commissioner Hakes reported that efforts are underway to coordinate efforts between the County, Law Enforcement, MN 6th Judicial District, and the County Attorney's Office to address Courthouse Security issues.  A Courthouse Security Committee is being formed and will initially include Sheriff Falk, Judge Cuzzo, Diane Herrick-Schmidt, Tim Scannell or Molly Hicken, Steve Borud, Brian Silence, Janet Simonen, Sue Futterer, Jim Wiinanen, Jan Hall and Sue Hakes.

Candidate Interviews
Commissioner Hakes presented a proposed interview process for County Board consideration.  Hakes advocated for the Board to interview Committee and Board applicants at the Board's discretion for key positions such as the Economic Development Authority (EDA).

MN Accountable Government, Innovation and Collaboration (MAGIC) Act
The County Board passed a resolution to recommend the swift passage of the MAGIC Act into law at the State Legislature.

Closed Session/Labor Negotiations
A closed session of the County Board Meeting was held to discuss strategies for the (3) on-going labor negotiations with County employees.