Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings followed by Building Fund Work Session

The County Board, in its varying capacities, met from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm today.  Read about it here...

Cook County Human Services Board
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes, along with board members Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and  Fritz Sobanja were all present for the June Human Services Board Meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer and Jan Parish.  Jan Hall was absent.

Committee Reports
Fritz Sobanja reported on the most recent Arrowhead Regional Corrections (ARC) meeting noting that ARC's month-to-month budget is extremely tight.  He also commented that the Juvenile Center is increasing its awareness about cultural differences among inmates and has recently built a sweat lodge.  Last, Sobanja said St. Louis County is working on the bonding for $750,000 authorized by the State Legislature.  Cook County will contribute a prorated amount.

Jim Johnson reported on the Health Care Planning Committee meeting noting that Hospital and Care Center Administrator Kimber Wraalstad said the Hospital is currently conducting a Facilities Assessment.  There was also discussion about the new Suicide Prevention service Text4Life and the consequences of the recent closing of Bridge House Mental Health Services in Duluth.  In other news, Lucy Perpich has joined the staff at the Violence Prevention Center and a full time Mental Health Professional will be working at ISD166 and Great Expectations Schools.

Income Maintenance Financial Management Tutorial, Sandy Petty
Sandy Petty, Financial Worker/Account Tech, gave the Board an overview of an important part of her work in Human Services.  Petty spends about 5% of her time working on the Social Trust Fund Program where she manages the Social Trust Fund as the representative payee.  Petty explained that the Social Trust Fund account is a checking account of consolidated funds for 24 individual clients.  She does this for those that are physically or mentally incapable of handing their financial affairs and there is no family member or companion able or willing to help the client.  Petty collects their income from one or all of the following:  Social Security,  Supplemental Security Income, Veteran's Administration, MN Supplemental Assistance, and/or Employment.  With the client's income, she pays their monthly bills for room and board or rent, utilities, personal needs cash, medical and transportation.

Petty has worked in Human Services for 22 years, witnessing many changes.  Managing the Social Trust Fund account, however, is the only aspect of her job that has not changed.  And, on a personal note, Petty shared that this is her favorite part of her job stating that the work itself is easy, but mostly it feels good to help people who need it in this way.  Petty's natural love of numbers makes her well-suited for this work.

Financial Report - Jan Parish, Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor
Jan Parish gave the Board her monthly budget update noting that the cash balance is ~$144,000 lower than a year ago, but that overall the finances of Public Health and Human Services look as projected for this time of year.  One serious concern, however, is the increase in the cost for children's out-of-home placements.  The number of clients needing this service is difficult to project.

Director's Report, Sue Futterer  
Sue Futterer shared a short video entitled, "The New Normal" by David Gillette about the aging of Minnesota and the impact it has on Government Services and costs.  It's an entertaining (and short) video, so check it out!

Futterer updated the Board on the on-going Region 3 Redesign efforts for CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection) Service Delivery.

Futterer provided the Board with a copy of the 2012 Legislative Session:  Summary of Laws as collected by the MN Association of County Social Service Administrators (MACSSA).

In preparation for the coming 2013 Budget Planning, Futterer presented the Board with the PHHS Department Budget goals.  These goals will be used in prioritizing funding.

Futterer gave the Board an update on the Security measures PHHS has implemented in their department.  More changes are anticipated after the Security Assessment from CJES is received at the end of June.  The entire PHHS Department has been proactive in recommending and implementing Security changes since the December 2011 shooting.

Board Actions
A Purchase of Service Agreement was approved between Cook County and Parental Home Study Provider for March 20-June 1, 2012.

The Board authorized a temporary employee to fill in during a Parenting Leave anticipated this Fall.

A Purchase Agreement between Cook County and eDocument Resources for Electronic Document Management with Appointments Management was approved as part of the larger eDocuments plan.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
County Board Vice Chair Bruce Martinson opened the meeting in Board Chair Jan Hall's absence.  Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson and Fritz Sobanja were present.  In addition, County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/County Board Secretary Janet Simonen were also present.

Public Comment 
Molly Hoffman expressed concern over her verbal exchange with County Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja at the June 12, 2012 County Board meeting.

FEMA Wildlife Sprinkler Program
Michael Valentini and George Carlson came before the County Board to request a refund of the deposits they made in lieu of a performance bond for the sprinkler installations they made under the FEMA Wildlife Sprinkler Program.  Cook County withheld $10,000 from both Valentini and Carlson to ensure proper installation and function for the one-year warranty period.  The Board approved their request.

GO Cook County!
Randy Lasky, President of Northspan Group, and Jim Boyd came before the Board to a) give an overview of the GO Cook County economic development strategic action plan, and b) request funding for the GO Cook County project.  GO Cook County is a multi-stakeholder steering committee of approximately 20 public, private and non-profit members that has formed over the past two months to lead a county-wide project aimed at developing a strategic economic development plan for Cook County.  Led by Northspan Group, GO Cook County will be a 6-month collaborative process that will involve the business owners, non-profit organizations, the public and local governments. In addition to Northspan Group, the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) will take a lead role in the project and have committed $11,500 as in-kind professional services to the project.  The City of Grand Marais, Cook County EDA, and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative have all committed $3,000 respectively to this work.  The County Board authorized $6,000 for the project and will act as the fiscal agent.

Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) Biomass Committee
CCLEP Biomass Committee Chair Paul Nelson, along with Committee members Gary Atwood, Tim Kennedy and George Wilkes came before the County Board to give an update on the status of the district heating plant study.  In addition, they requested the Board set aside 1% sales tax dollars for a project to be fleshed out in the next few weeks.  In general, their project will include a) market assessment, technical concept and draft business plan, b) schematic design/layout of the facility and final business plan, and c) financial support for conversions to biomass heat.  The current concept shows the Grand Marais PUC in a lead role for this business.  CCLEP recognizes that funding would be phased and contingent upon the results of the first feasibility assessments.  The Board asked the group to submit an application to the 1% Sales Tax Committee for consideration and review.

MN Counties Information Systems (MCIS) Upgrade, Mary Black
The Board supported a request from County Assessor Mary Black to allocate $50,835 to be paid over 3 years for the modernization of the property tax system, CAMA and payroll systems developed by MCIS.

CSAH 8 Reconstruction
Old property irons along CSAH 8 were destroyed during the road reconstruction clearing and grading operations.  The Board authorized David Betts to contract with Brett Land Surveyors for the replacement of the property irons at a cost of $310 per iron for a total estimated cost of $7,130.

Taylor Lane Road Ownership
The ownership of the first 1100 feet of Taylor Lane Road east of Grand Marais isn't clear.  Records are incomplete and conflicting.  However, County Attorney Tim Scannell ultimately determined it to be a public road siting findings of fact and MN Stat. Sec. 160.05 Sub. 1 as the basis for his legal opinion.  The Board supported Scannell's opinion declaring it a public road and authorized the Highway Department to repair it to County standards.  Lawfully vacating this road may be considered at a future date.

Courthouse Security
The County Board authorized moving forward in making security modifications to the County Attorney's office.  The project will be supervised by ORB management and the work conducted by local carpenters and electricians.  The project cost is guaranteed and fixed at $36,495.  ORB Management will not be collecting a management fee for this work; they wish to donate this work to Cook County.

Miscellaneous Fees
A Public Hearing on Miscellaneous Fees has been scheduled during the July 10 County Board Meeting.

Community Center Project
The County Board authorized hiring legal counsel for specific portions of the Community Center project.  Bob Toftey will assist the County in the negotiations and agreement drafting for the management agreement between the County and the YMCA.  Baiers Hereen will assist in the negotiations and agreement drafting for the real estate transactions required to secure and/or occupy the part of the school building and the land beneath it on which the community center will be built.

Sue Hakes reported that she attended the Duluth Family YMCA's Annual Meeting last week in Duluth and was impressed by the enthusiasm and sincerity of the Board, Staff, Members and Volunteers.  Several inspirational stories from members and volunteers were shared as a highlight of the evening.  The state of the Duluth Family YMCA appears to be healthy on a multitude of levels including a fast growing membership and reports of academic improvements for children in the YMCA mentor program.

US Forest Service Travel Management Project in the Superior National Forest
Commissioner Sobanja mentioned the recent decision of US District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson to allow the US Forest Service to modify the plans for roads and trails in the Superior National Forest.  Details of this decision were outlined in an April 17, 2012 press release.

Work Session to discuss Cook County Building Fund
The County Board, led by Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, held a lengthy discussion regarding the building fund and current/future wants and needs for improvements to existing County facilities.  Also present for the discussion was Maintenance Supervisor Brian Silence, PHHS Director Sue Futterer, Highway Department Engineer David Betts, Highway Department Supervisor Russell Klegstad and Sheriff Mark Falk.   The list of wants and needs is lengthy and includes: Courthouse Security Changes/Additions, Highway Department Workshops and salt storage in Hovland and Tofte, Highway Department Office/Garage/Salt Storage/Vehicle Wash, Client Meeting Rooms in PHHS, Maintenance Storage, unified office space for County IT operations including Radio Tech, Air Conditioning for LEC Server Room, additional space for LEC, routine maintenance of all buildings, furniture, audio improvements.  The Board will continue to work with Powers and the Department Heads to refine and prioritize this list.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes of the Cook County Board of Commissioners will be available on the County's website after they are written and approved.  You may also obtain a copy by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3602.  For a video record of the County Board meetings, go to Boreal.TV.