Tuesday, February 28, 2012

County Board Meeting held February 28, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all in attendance at today's County Board meeting.  Commissioner Jim Johnson was absent due to illness.  Also present were Auditor Braidy Powers and Personnel Director Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
Molly Hoffman expressed desire for more public input in the Community Center project.

Law Enforcement
The Board authorized the purchase of an emergency restraint chair for $1595 as requested by Sheriff Falk.  This purchase was budgeted for $2000.

Highway Department
The Board authorized the purchase of (1) pole pruner at a cost of $659 to replace the old pruner that failed.  The Board also authorized the purchase of a used 2004 Mitsubishi forklift for $14,700 to replace the 1970 Hyster forklift.  $36,000 was budgeted for the purchase of a (new) forklift; instead a good used forklift was bought.

Board Chair Jan Hall expressed concern to David Betts and Russ Klegstad about the brushing and clearing currently in progress on the Chicago Bay Road.  Hall has received several calls of complaint.

Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race
The County Board approved a special event permit as requested from Adam Harju of Lifetime Fitness for the Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike race to be held on June 23, 2012. This is the 2nd year for this growing event.  Letters of support were received from Lutsen Township and the Town of Tofte.

Office of Plannng & Zoning (OPZ)
The County Board approved (2) Solid Waste Hauler license renewals.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Schedule
Residential Household Hazardous Waste
            Saturday, June 2 from 9 AM to 1 PM
            Saturday, September 15 from 9 AM to 1 PM
Commercial (Clean Shop) Household Hazardous Waste
             Friday, September 14 from 9 am to 1 PM

Lakeshore Septic Compliance Program
OPZ Director Tim Nelson informed the Board that 2012 would be a year for follow-up of completed septic inspections and planning for the next 10 years for the Lakeshore Septic Compliance Program.  Cook County did not receive grant funding for 2012, so part of this year's focus will be seeking funds in support of the next ten years.  Cook County surpassed its goals for first ten-years of the Lakeshore Septic Compliance Program.

New State Legislative Districts
Braidy Powers distributed information regarding State Redistricting.  For more information about State Legislative Redistricting, go to http://cookcountydistrict3.blogspot.com/2012/02/redistricting-outcome.html.  The redistricting deadline for the County is May 1, 2012.  Powers said information will be provided to the public as the County moves through this process.

Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) Grant
The Board voted to accept the Blandin Foundation MIRC Grant in the amount of $23,245 for the facilitation of broadband deployment in rural areas.

County Fees
The Board scheduled a PUBLIC HEARING on County fees for the Office of Planning & Zoning.  This hearing is scheduled for March 13, 2012 at 10 AM in the Commissioner's Room.

County Fair
Due to a lack of support for a County Fair, the Cook County Fair is cancelled for 2012.

Proposed Voter ID Election Legislation
Braidy Powers alerted the County Board to some of the changes and associated costs that will have to occur if the Voter ID Election Legislation (SF1577) passes as a Constitutional Amendment this Fall.

Community Center Project
The County Board approved a letter of support to the Duluth Area Family YMCA to further explore partnering on the Cook County Community Center.  The YMCA will first conduct an internal feasibility study.  If the results of that study prove promising, the YMCA will contract with SEER Analytical to conduct an additional, independent analysis of the project.  The County Board will consider funding part or all of the $5000 for this service.

MN Sheriff's Association Courts & Building Security Training
Commissioner Hakes reported on the 2-day MN Sheriff's Association Courts & Building Security Training she attended in Beltrami County with Sheriff Falk, County Probation Office Steve Borud and Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken.  Hakes said one of the key points stressed at the training was to learn how to recognize Highly Charged Emotional Events and to get a plan in place to deal appropriately with them.  This training will be shared at the next meeting of the Courthouse Security Team.

Wetland Replacement Requirements Legislation
The County Board voted to support a resolution as recommended by the Arrowhead Counties Association to modify the wetland replacement requirements for counties with 80% or more of their pre-settlement wetlands remaining (HF2105).

School Trust Lands
Efforts are underway at the State Legislature (HF2244 and SF1889) to take away control of the school trust lands from the DNR to a trust manager from another state agency.  County Land Commissioner Mary Black warned the County Board that if this happens, PILT (payment in lieu of tax) payments may not transfer to the new agency.  Black and Braidy Powers will work to understand the negative impacts of this potential change while the Commissioners will lobby to prevent it.

Labor Negotiations
The meeting was closed for the County Board to discuss on-going labor negotiations.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings held February 21, 2012

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes opened the meeting at 8:30 am.  Other board members participating were Jan Hall, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson, Fritz Sobanja.  Carla LaPointe and Jim Johnson were excused.

Committee Reports
Committee reports were given by member representatives.  If you are interested in learning more about Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Arrowhead Health Alliance, Arrowhead Regional Corrections, Community Health Board, Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee, Health Care Planning or the North Shore Collaborative, please contact me and I'll connect you with the right person.

Elderly Waiver and Alternative Care Grant Funding Programs and Services
Barb Rasmussen, Cook County Social Worker, presented the Board with an overview of the Elderly Waiver (EW) and Alternative Care Grant (AC) programs and services she works to provide qualifying Cook County residents in need.  Both EW and AC are funding mechanisms currently in place to provide in-home services to those 65 and older that wish to and are able to stay in their homes with the support of community services.

To determine eligibility for EW or AC, an assessment is conducted by a Long Term Care Consultation Team.  To be eligible, an individual must be 65 years or older, meet nursing facility level of care criteria, be eligible for medical assistance (EW), or have income and assets to pay for more more than 135 days of nursing facility services (AC).  Examples of services provided in the EW program are in-home meals and emergency phone equipment.  The AC program provides day care, skilled nursing, housekeeping services and more.

Rasmussen currently manages 5 Elderly Waiver cases and 1 Alternative Care case for Cook County.  Clearly the management of these cases is complicated, but according to Rasmussen "it works!".  And, due to the competence and diligence of Rasmussen, "it works well".

Trauncy Process
Grace Bushard, Social Services Supervisor, updated the Board on a new process to address Truancy at ISD 166 Cook County Schools.  MN State Law requires students attend school every day.  A student who is absent (3) or more days in a school year without being excused by a parent or guardian is a "continuing truant" by state law.  If truancy continues a student is considered a "habitual truant" and this can lead to serious consequences. Bushard, the Cook County Attorney's Office, the School Community Action Team (SCAT) are all working with the school, parents, and students to address the truancy problem in ISD166.  19 families met with Assistant County Attorney Hicken and Social Services to understand the consequences of truancy and sign an Attendance Contract between the student, parent/guardian and school.

Director's Report--Sue Futterer
Public Health and Human Services Director Sue Futterer reported on the recent Region 3 Redesign Meeting noting that Child Support will be the next area considered.  (Redesign is about finding better ways to provide services to Minnesotans and Region 3 Human Services has been a leader in this effort.)

Futterer reported that TEXT4Life, a suicide prevention hotline for teens, is catching on.  So far, approximately 3-6 text messages/day are being received from teens in the 7 participating NE Minnesota Counties.  This number is roughly equal to all telephone calls being received statewide.  The suicide rate in Northern Minnesota is higher than average; this program was born out of efforts to change that.

With regrets, Futterer asked the Board to accept the letter of resignation from Amy Lacina, RN/PHN.  The Board did so, and also approved Futterer's request to advertise to fill the Public Health Nurse vacancy left by Lacina.  

Cook County Board Meeting 
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the February 21 County Board Meeting.  Jim Johnson was absent due to health issues.  Also present were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

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

Mush for a Cure Fun Run
The County Board approved the special event permit for the Mush for the Cure Fun Run to be held March 9-11 on the Gunflint Trail.  

Board of Appeal and Equalization Meeting
The Cook County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm in the County Commissioner's Room.  In an effort to ensure that taxpayers will have equal time before the Board at this meeting, allotted appointment times will be given.  Contact County Assessor Mary Black at mary.black@co.cook.mn.us or 218/387-3650 to learn more.

County Veteran's Service Officer Operational Improvement Grant
The Board accepted a $1400 Operational Improvement Grant to be used by Cook County Veteran Services Officer Clarence Everson for the purchase of approved equipment or training.

Support Services Agreement
The County Board authorized moving forward with a contract to allow County Integrated Financial Systems (IFS) users to access on-line training and support for the new version of our accounting software.  The cost is $30/month and will be shared equally by PHHS and the Auditor's Office.

Architectural Services Payment
Last November, the County Board authorized Meyer Group up to $5,000 (plus reimbursable expenses budgeted at $750) for architectural services in designing a modest Recreation Building that would provide a space for ice skaters to warm up and change, store the zamboni and possibly provide concession space.  Actual costs for this pre-design work were over $16,000 and Meyer Group requested an additional $5,000 for a total of $10,000.  Pre-authorization for this overrun was not received, nor was it submitted to ORB Management for review prior to payment.  The County Board authorized payment of $5,444.80 per the original authorization, subject to review by Attorney Tim Scannell.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Redistricting Outcome

Click here to see the redistricting decisions made by the Special Redistricting Panel based on the 2010 census results.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Redistricting in NE Minnesota

Read Aaron J. Brown's column on redistricting and its potential impact on NE Minnesota politics.  The legislative and congressional redistricting deadline is this Tuesday, February 21.  The deadline for County redistricting is May 1, 2012.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

County Board Meeting on February 14, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Commissioner Jim Johnson was absent due to health issues.  Also in attendance were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

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

Highway Department
The County Board unanimously approved the purchase of one CAT 930H front end loader at a cost of $160,194.93 (plus extended warranty).  The Board also approved (3-1 with Martinson opposed) the purchase of two Mack GU713 tandem axle dump trucks with dump truck boxes with plows, wings, sanders and underbellies at costs of $232,038 and $228,811 (plus extended warranties).  The purchase of this equipment is in accordance with the Highway Department Equipment Replacement plan and were approved in the 2012 budget.

The County Board approved a proposal from Mn/DOT for the County to provide winter maintenance services for old T.H. 61 aka Rollins Creek Road.  This agreement will be in effect through May 2012 and the County will be paid $3000 for this service.

Invasive Species 
The Board approved a modification to a US Forest Service Grant to combat invasive species in Cook County.  The modification will extend the existing agreement by $41,837 with a September 30, 2014 deadline for spending these funds.  The required 20% match for this grant will be provided by in-kind volunteer work.

At the request of Michael Lynch, USFS Cook County Invasive Team Coordinator, the Board approved a request to support a grant application to the MN DNR for the creation and installation of invasive species boot brush signs at trailheads in Northeastern MN.

Dennis, Neitzke, USFS Gunflint District Ranger
District Ranger Dennis Neitzke provided the County Board with a brief update on current USFS issues:
a)  The Secure Rural Schools Act (SRSA) ended in 2011.  Re-authorization of this funding is anticipated for 2012, but at a reduced amount.  Last year Cook County received $550,000 in SRSA funding which is shared with ISD166.
b)  Dryness resulting from lack of snow this season is cause for concern.  The USFS is keeping a close watch on fire conditions and will react if necessary.  Neitzke informed the Board that a fire ban can generally be enacted within a single day, but that reaching all campers in the wilderness often requires up to 4 days.  The USFS encourages campers to use common sense in the woods and to not build fires when conditions change to hot, dry and windy.
c)  The land exchange between the USFS and Cook County is moving forward.  The lands proposed for the exchange have been identified.  The feasibility study is underway and the environmental assessment is forthcoming.
d) Dennis Neitzke's decision on the South Fowl snowmobile trail (aka Tilbury Trail) was appealed, so this snowmobile route is not open.  The Forest Service has contracted with a sound analysis expert from the National Park Service to examine the sound testing and sound modeling that was conducted by the USFS.
e)  Forest Restoration efforts are on-going.

Cook County Tower at Gunflint Magnetic Site
Sheriff Falk, along with District Ranger Dennis Neitzke, informed the Board that the Special Use Authorization for the Gunflint Magnetic tower site has been amended to include replacement of an existing 180 foot self-supporting communications tower with a new 195 foot self supporting communications tower; it will not be guyed or lighted.  This tower will be built by AT&T and owned by Cook County on Forest Service land.  Per the agreement with the Forest Service, a ~$4000 annual fee will be charged once cell phone service is provided.  

Office of Planning & Zoning
As recommended by the Planning Commission, the County Board approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to modify property lines for Lot 3, Block 6 within Superior National Golf Properties at Lutsen to incorporate a white pine on the subject property.  No change to the acreage of the lot or the open space in the Open Space Subdivision will result from this action.

A Conditional Use Permit to operate a Bed and Breakfast in Tofte within the Single Family Residential (R-1) zone district was approved with just 1 change from the recommendation from the Planning Commission.  In response to concerns from the neighbors regarding lighting, a condition to install shading on the existing lighting was added to the permit.

Nancy Grabko, Cook County/Grand Marais EDA Housing Coordinator
The Board approved (2) resolutions as requested by Nancy Grabko:
a)  to submit an application for funding under the DEED Small Cities Development program, and
b)  to submit an application for funding under the NE Minnesota HOME Consortium program.
These programs would play an integral part of Cook County's ability to assist income qualifying residents in need of home rehabilitation.  Grabko also outlined changes to the application and scoring  processes.

Grabko also reminded the Board of the collaborative work between the EDA, AEOA and the Duluth HRA in helping qualifying residents obtain Section 8 Rental housing Assistance.  For information on help paying the rent, contact the EDA Housing Program at 218-387-3067 or email Nancy Grabko at dngrabko@means.net.

Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club
Sharon Hexum-Platzer and Scott Platzer, VP and Administrator of the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club respectively, came before the Board to ask for support in the relocation of a 25' x 40' building from behind the Lutsen Town Hall to a piece of County Land located on the Caribou Trail and adjacent to the Lutsen snowmobile trail.  The Club is applying for a MN DNR grant to pay the relocation and remodeling costs associated with this move.  As the property owner, the County Board agreed to write a letter of support for this grant, as well as move forward with negotiation of a lease agreement and the Conditional User Permitting process.

The County Board will act as the Fiscal Agent for MN Snowmobile Trail Assistance Program grant funds on behalf of the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club, Cook County Snowmobile Club, and Superior Timber Wolves Sportsmen Club.

Redistricting Overview
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers informed the Board of the Redistricting Process that occurs with population changes resulting from the Census taken every 10 years.  The Redistricting deadline for the County is May 1, 2012, but cannot occur until the City of Grand Marais completes its redistricting which is due to be complete by April 3, 2012.  In preparation for this, the County Board passed a resolution regarding Redistricting Principles that states:   Each commissioner district will be composed, as nearly as possible, of compact, contiguous territory of equal population and bounded entirely by precinct boundaries.  Powers explained the formulas used in determining population changes.

Gambling Permit 
The Board approved a permit for the Gunflint Lake Property Owners to conduct a raffle at Gunflint Lodge on July 18, 2012.

Boundary Waters Advisory Committee Trail Grant
The Board approved a resolution to act as Fiscal Agent for the Federal Recreational Trails Program on behalf of the Boundary Waters Advisory Committee.

Budget Review
Braidy Powers reviewed the 2011 General Fund actual vs. budgeted expenses.  At the end of 2011, the County Budget came in at 99.7% of the General Fund plan. Powers also reviewed the Cook County investments.

Government Corners
The County Board authorized an additional $1,000 to fund Wayne Hensche for obtaining information showing government survey corners along the Grade area. Cook County Recorder Dusty Nelms has identified this information as vital in surveying lands correctly in Cook County.

Community Center Project
Commissioner Hakes gave an overview of the Community Center Steering Committee Meeting held last week.

Cook County Security Committee
Commissioner Hakes, supported by Commissioner Hall and Janet Simonen, gave an overview of the Courthouse Security Meeting held last week.  Janet Simonen updated the Board on the agenda for the County Employee Meeting to be held from 8-10 AM on Thursday, February 16.  The Courthouse will be closed for regular business during this time.

Water Advisory Committee Appointments
The County Board approved the appointments of Gary Macicjewski (2nd term) and Don Lease (1st term) to the Water Advisory Committee as presented by Illena Berg, Water Plan Coordinator.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Senator Franken Introduces the Local Courthouse Safety Act

Senator Al Franken introduced the Courthouse Safety Act on the Senate Floor yesterday with bi-partisan support.  Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and Senator John Boozman (R-Ark) signed on as original co-sponsors of this proposed legislation.  Click here for a video of Senator Franken's speech.  Click here for a full transcript of Senator Franken's remarks.   A summary of the proposed bill follows:

Local Courthouse Safety Act

Local courthouses are dangerous places.  Stakes are high.  Tempers flare.  Victims confront their assailants; defendants confront their accusers; and prosecutors argue with defense lawyers.  

A rash of incidents in late 2011 raised serious concerns about security at local courthouses. In September, a defendant opened fire in the Crawford County Courthouse in Arkansas, killing a judge's secretary.  Two days later, police killed a defendant in the Adams County Superior Court in Indiana after he pointed a gun at them.  Neither of those courthouses had metal detectors.  In December, a defendant retrieved a gun from his car, walked into the Cook County Courthouse in Minnesota, and shot the prosecuting attorney, and a witness.  That courthouse did not have a metal detector, either.  In fact, after that shooting, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association estimated that most rural courthouses in the state have no metal detector on site.  

The Bureau of Justice Assistance recently commissioned the National Center for State Courts and the Center on Judicial and Executive Security to conduct a comprehensive study of local courthouse security.  In the mean time, anecdotal evidence demonstrates that security at many local courthouses is lax, particularly in rural and suburban areas where access to equipment and resources is especially scarce.  Our local police, court personnel, and communities remain in harm's way as a result.  One Minnesota judge put it well in recent correspondence to his colleagues:  "I'm no longer willing to risk my life, the life of court staff, (and) the life of the public who have no choice about going to court."

The Local Courthouse Safety Act will give local courthouses access to the resources they need to improve security.  It will:

1)  Provide local courts with access to security training and risk assessments.  The bill will authorize the Justice Department to operate its VALOR Initiative, which provides training and technical assistance to local law enforcement, teaching them how to anticipate and survive violent encounters.

2)  Give states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security.  The bill will clarify that states can use Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants and State Homeland Security Grants to improve security at local courthouses.

3)  Cut through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment.  The Defense Department currently has authority to give excess equipment directly to local police and firefighters. This bill similarly would give local courts direct access to excess federal security equipment, like metal detectors, wands, and baggage screening machines.

The Center for Judicial and Executive Security supports this bill. For more information, please contact Joshua Riley at Joshua_Riley@judiciary-dem.senate.gov

Friday, February 3, 2012

Community Center, Courthouse Security, Special Meeting on Opening the Closed Landfill

The last two days have been filled with meetings.  Here's the rundown on (3) of the most interesting:

Community Center Steering Committee Meeting--Thursday Morning
At the direction of the County Board, the Community Center Steering Committee met February 2 from 8 am to Noon.  The Steering Committee has been tasked with making a recommendation to the County Board for a new Community Center and Recreation Area to be designed and built at a cost not to exceed $9M.  This amount is reduced from just under $11M previously allocated.  The County Board also directed the Steering Committee to recommend a location for outdoor ice to be built in time for the 2012-2013 winter skating season, and to consider various options for a warming facility.

After significant discussion including the budget, location of the facility, wetland mitigation, facility management and possible partnership with ISD166, two motions were made and passed:  1)  The Steering Committee will pursue working with the YMCA to explore the possibility of having the YMCA manage a new facility, and 2) The Steering Committee will pursue attaching the proposed Community Center to the School. A meeting with the School Board will be requested to explore the merits of this partnership and the County Board will be kept abreast of this effort.

Committee member Paul Sporn volunteered and was elected as the new Steering Committee Chair.  Diane Booth was re-elected as Secretary.  Other members include Jeanne Anderson, Maggie Barnard, Diane Booth, Bob Fenwick, Sue Hakes, Andra Lilienthal, Paul Nelson, Sue Prom, Karen Kritta Saethre, Fritz Sobanja, Paul Sporn, and alternates Kris Hedstrom, Jim Johnson and George Wilkes.  There are still a couple of openings on the Committee; if you are interested in participating, call Diane Booth at 387-3015.

The next meeting of the Steering Committee is TENTATIVELY scheduled for either February 29 (Wed) or March 2 (Fri) from 8 AM to NOON.  The Public is welcome to attend these meetings.

Cook County Security Committee--Friday Morning
The first meeting of the newly formed Cook County Security Committee was held Friday, February 3 from 10 AM to approximately 12:30 PM.  Sheriff Mark Falk was nominated as the Chair of this Committee to be assisted by Commissioner Sue Hakes.  Committee members include:  Sheriff Mark Falk, Judge Michael Cuzzo, County Board Chair Janice Hall, County Attorney Tim Scannell, Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken, Acting Court Administrator Diane Herrick-Schmidt, Probation Officer Steve Borud, Maintenance Director Brian Silence, Public Health & Human Services Director Sue Futterer, Personnel Director Janet Simonen, GIS Analyst Kyle Oberg, and County Commissioner Sue Hakes.

The basic role of this Committee is to review Cook County policies, procedures and facilities and recommend any changes necessary to reasonably ensure the safety of all who enter the Cook County Courthouse.

After a review of actions taken since the December 15, 2011 Courthouse Shooting, the Committee identified and discussed a list of issues and established some priorities.  "Making the Courthouse Safe" was of top priority and a sub-committee was established to look at possible physical changes that could/should be made to the County Attorney's Office, Courtroom, Court Administration, Probation, other departments, entrances/exits.  It was also decided that the existing Safety Committee would examine the Lockdown Policy and Training (employee safety training, lockdown drills, other training as identified).

The importance of two-way communication with County employees was also discussed at length.  A second All Employee Meeting is being scheduled to keep employees informed of actions being taken, as well as to allow employees to ask questions, share ideas, and voice concerns.  Department Heads are soliciting input from employees about needs and concerns which will be forwarded to the Committee for consideration and incorporation.

Four members of this committee (Falk, Hicken, Borud, Hakes) will be attending the MN Sheriff's Association Courthouse Safety Training on November 22-23 in Bemidji.

Special Meeting of the County Board of Commissioners--Friday Afternoon
A Special Meeting of the County Board of Commissioners was called to consider a request to support the release of the existing Gunflint Landfill  from the Closed Landfill Program.  Local businessmen Ray Pederson and Rick Austin (R&R Disposal) requested  the County Board support their efforts to have the MPCA re-open the former demolition landfill site approximately 9 miles off the Gunflint Trail on Forest Road 304.  Hal Greenwood was also present in support of this request; Mr. Greenwood explained that he has been helping to fast-track this request with Governor Dayton, Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill.

Several years ago, the County Board made a conscious and expensive decision to enter its Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Demolition Landfills into the MPCA Closed Landfill Program.  This decision was made to mitigate the risks to public health and the environment that can be caused at/near landfills from groundwater contamination, landfill gas migration, and/or chemical leaching.  The County paid in excess of $600,000 for the MPCA to be responsible for the long-term care of this facility and remove the County from any liability resulting from this site.

Removing the Demolition Landfill from the Closed Landfill Program (the request does not include the MSW) puts the County at risk in (2) significant ways:

a)  First and foremost is the risk to public health and the environment that may be caused by re-opening this site; there is a reason it was closed in the first place.

b)  The second is the financial liability to the County, and ultimately the County taxpayers.  By re-opening the old demolition landfill, any party that has ever used it becomes liable for damages; the State would bear no liability or responsibility.  Both County Attorney Tim Scannell and Director of Planning & Zoning Tim Nelson outlined clearly the liability risks to the County.  The MPCA has also explained that in spite of some legislative limits to the County's liability, it could still reach $3 million.

We do need a safe, affordable demolition landfill in Cook County.  Unfortunately, the health and liability risks at the old demolition site are too great to fulfill this need.

Ultimately the County Board voted 3-1 (Hakes opposed) in support of writing a letter to Senator Bakk and Representative Dill asking them to work with R&R Disposal and Cook County in exploring the removal of the old Demolition Landfill from the Closed Landfill Program.