Tuesday, October 30, 2012

County Board of Commissioners Special Meeting: Community Center Documents

Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissiners Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present at today's County Board of Commissioner's Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Office of Planning & Zoning (OPZ)
The County Board authorized the purchase of (1) Bell Can Separator, (1) Miller Glass Breaker, and (1) Green Mobile Recycling Trailer for a total of $36,318. These items are in the 2012 and 2013 OPZ Budget.

Information Systems
The County Board authorized the purchase of (9) desktop PCs, (3) laptop/mobiles, and (3) monitors for a total of $10,200 as part of the County's annual PC maintenance schedule.  Machines being replaced are 5 years old and will be repositioned to lower-level tasks within the county network.

Veteran Services
The Board approved a County Veteran Services Office grant in the amount of $2,298 for the transportation of veterans needing access to medical facilities.

Election Judges
Six election judges were appointed by the Board as recommended by Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers. Each of them is an eligible Cook County voter and has completed certification training.

Construction Change Order
A change order in the amount of $13,602 was authorized to be paid to Crawford Excavating for a) additional jack hammering and removal of ledge rock at the hockey rink, and b) removal of unsuitable material and hauling in clean material.  It was noted that changes such as this are paid for from the construction reserve account.

Secure Rural Schools Funding
Secure Rural Schools Funding was reauthorized for FY 2012, for one year. Braidy Powers reported that instead of receiving 95% of the funding amount received in 2011, Cook County will be receiving only 72% of that amount.  This results in a reduction from an anticipated $602,000 to $435,000.  43% of this funding is allocated to the Highway Department.

Legal Documents for the Cook County Family YMCA
The County Board reviewed several documents that are being finalized for the Cook County Family YMCA project.  Attorney Baiers Heeren, Swanson and Heeren Law Firm, has been working on behalf of the County and was present to answer questions.

The Purchase Agreement between the County and ISD166 has been reviewed by the attorneys representing both the County and ISD166.  After a final review by the County Board, a motion was passed to approve the Purchase Agreement and authorize it be signed by Board Chair Janice Hall and Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.

Heeren also presented the most current draft of the the Joint Powers Agreement between Cook County and the City of Grand Marais for sharing costs of the Cook County Family YMCA.  The City Council will be reviewing this document at its City Council Meeting on October 31.

Security Training
Janet Simonen reported that the Courthouse Security and Safety Committees are working to schedule a lock down drill at the Courthouse.  It is likely that the Courthouse will be closed for this event to allow an exercise to practice sweep the building and debriefing.  Janet Simonen will advise the plan and the date.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

County Board Meeting 10/23/12: Bonding, Budget, Tom Bakk & David Dill Visit

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Jim Johnson was absent.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director Janet Simonen

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

Peace Scarf Gift
The County Board was given a very special gift today from the Scarves of Peace project.  In her gift letter, Founder Karen Lohn shared this, "The scarf was braided by many hands, using strands blessed with peaceful intentions, contributed by diverse peoples from six continents.  May you enjoy its beauty and unity of spirit, or regift to encircle another with warm wishes for peace and harmony."  The County Board was really touched by this gesture and is planning to hang the scarf in a place of prominence in the County Board Room.

Multi-tenant Wireless Tower in Schroeder
The County Board agreed with the recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve a Conditional Use Permit allowing Allete, Inc., MN Towers, and AT&T to erect a 195-foot, multi-tenant communication facility on property owned by Allete and adjacent to Highway 61 in Schroeder. The parcel is contained within the Heavy Industrial zone district.

Highway Department
The County Board approved a capital purchase request from Maintenance Supervisor for a wheel puller for $1795.50.  This tool will be used to remove rims in a secure manner.

Curling Club Lease Agreement
The County Board approved a lease agreement with the Cook County Curling Club for use of specified areas of the Cook County Community Center for Curling and related activities.  The lease  term begins October 15, 2012 and ends on March 31, 2013.   The Curling Club will pay $2500/month.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous Items
The County Board voted to approve a grant contract between the State of MN through its Commissioner of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for $1,727,437.50 for waterfront and low water sprinkler installation.  A match of $575,812.50 will be paid by the homeowners receiving the systems.

The County Board voted to accept an Emergency Management Performance Grant for 2012 in the amount of $15,481.00 as presented via Powers from Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen.

The Board gratefully accepted a donation to Search & Rescue from a Hovland resident for a successful rescue effort to find his wife.

The County Board approved several liquor license renewal applications, all subject to approval from the Sheriff, town board, liquor liability insurance, worker's compensation compliance, and compliance with local and state ordinances governing liquor licensing.  The Board also approved several cigarette applications for license renewal.

The Board Meeting was closed to discuss non-public health data of a county employee.

Sheriff Mark Falk, Law Enforcement
The County Board approved a request fro Sheriff Mark Falk to hire Chuck Anderson as a Deputy to begin work November 1, 2012.

ATV Ordinance Discussion
The County Board voted to schedule a Public Hearing for February 26, 2013 at 10:30 to consider making Cook County ATV Ordinance #54 permanent.  The current Ordinance is set to expire on July 1, 2013.  On 10/9/2012, Sheriff Falk reported from Law Enforcement, the DNR, and the Highway Department that there were no citations reported in 2011 and just one citation reported in 2012.

Emergency Management Handbook for Government Officials
Emergency Services Director, Jim Wiinanen, requested a worksession of the County Board to review the "Emergency Management Handbook for Government Officials".  The Board agreed this was a good idea and it will be scheduled for early 2013 to include the new commissioner(s).

One Percent Sales Tax Projects
Commissioner Hakes and Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers requested a Special Meeting of the County Board to discuss the legal contracts for the Community Center.  This Special Meeting will be held October 30 at 1:00 pm in the Commissioner's Room.

Capital Equipment Notes and Taxable Sales Tax Revenue Bonds
Vice President and Financial Advisor, Bruce Kimmel of Ehlers Financial presented a financial summary for the County to set two sales for November 27, 2012.

The first sale will be capital notes for the purchase of capital equipment for the purchase of capital equipment for public safety equipment, road construction and maintenance equipment, and for ARMER equipment in the amount of $2,175,000.

The second sale will be taxable general obligation sales tax revenue bonds in the amount of $9,660,000 for the construction of the Cook County Community Center to be managed by the YMCA as the Cook County Family YMCA.

Kimmel also presented the current "Sales Tax Project Spending and Financing Plan" for all of the One Percent Sales Tax Projects.  Current sales tax collections and interest rates are favorable.

(Lunch Break Noon to 1:00 PM)

Review of 2013 Cook County Preliminary Budget and Funding Requests
The Board discussed the 2013 Budget; the preliminary levy was set for 5.76% and the Board is working to reduce that to 2-3%.   The discussion resulted in some reduction of the levy due to increased revenues in Planning & Zoning and a projected reduction in the cost of the Taylor Lane road project.  Also considered were reductions/postponements of Highway Department capital equipment, proceeds from the sale of tax forfeit property, and use of the County's fund balance.

As part of their budget discussion, the Board also talked about the EDA's request of $200,000, an increase of ~$51,000 from their 2012 levy.  At yesterday's joint County/City/EDA Meeting the County expressed concerns about the EDA's lack of clear direction and planning.  The EDA agreed, noting that they are in a period of defining their goals & objectives and waiting for information and direction from the GO Cook County work currently underway to identify the needs of small business and non-profits throughout the County.  The County Board expressed concern about the requested increase in salary for Community Funding Solutions and the lack of having an EDA Director in place.

Discussion of County/State Issues with Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill
The County Board welcomed Senator Bakk and Representative Dill to their meeting to discuss issues involving Cook County and the State Legislature.  Topics discussed included funding for Veteran's Services, the Violence Prevention Center and Victims Advocacy  Other issues discussed were Legacy Funding, Airport Runway Funding, elimination of Sales Tax for ARMER, costs of elections if Voter ID passes, Public Health and Human Services streamlining and equipment, and tax classifications of commercial businesses downtown Grand Marais.

It was good to get Cook County issues before these legislators.

Meeting Minutes
For a copy of meeting minutes from this meeting, call or email Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602 or janet.simonen@co.cook.mn.us.  You may also get a copy by going to the County Website.   You may also view the meeting in its entirety at Boreal.TV.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings on October 16, 2012

Human Services Board Meeting

Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes, along with Commissioners Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the 10/16/2012 Board Meeting.  Carla LaPointe and Jerry Lilja had excused absences.  Also present was Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, and Janet Simonen, Personnel Director.

Committee Reports
Arrowhead Regional Corrections--Comissioners Hall and Sobanja reported that Cook County will host the ARC Board on Friday, 10/19/12.
Community Health Board--Commissioner Hall reported that the Community Health Board will be conducting a local Community Health Assessment and Planning session in Cook County on 10/22/12.
Health Care Planning Committee--Commissioner Johnson reported that the Hospital is working on plans to improve their facility.  He also reported that a study has been funded to study mercury levels in Cook County, which are high.
North Shore Collaborative--At its last meeting, the NSC held a facilitated planning session to revisit its Mission, Goals and Structure.  At this meeting a Ways & Means Committee was formed. The Collaborative will continue to work to position itself for effectiveness.

Child Support Report
Child Support Officer, Wendy Danielson, gave the HS Board an overview of the services she provides in the Child Support Program for Cook County.  In her job, Danielson helps parents establish paternity and financial child support for the parents with physical custody.  She currently has 218 open cases.

Danielson's work can get complex; she collaborates with county attorneys, human services staff, out-of-state child support agencies, private attorneys, magistrates, judges, court administration, state staff, law enforcement and probation.  And, her performance is closely measured in (5) categories:  1) paternity establishment, 2) support establishment, 3) current collections, 4) arrears collections, and 5) cost effectiveness (ratio of dollars spent to dollars collected).

Cook County's continued high performance is important to Danielson; she works closely with Sue Futterer to continue to maintain high scores.  Danielson says to achieve success in her job its important that she stay trained to keep up her expertise.

Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor, Jan Parish, augmented Wendy Danielson's report with some financial information about the Child Support Program.  She further explained the expenditures, revenues and incentive revenues in this program.

Parish also gave the Board an overview of the September 30, 2012 PHHS Budget. Generally speaking, the Department is on plan for this time of year.

Director's Report
PHHS Director, Sue Futterer, reported that several candidates have taken the tests necessary to apply for the open social worker and financial worker positions in PHHS.

Futterer was extremely pleased to share Governor Mark Dayton's recognition of Financial Workers and Case Aides and the important, complex work that they do.  An Official Proclamation signed by the Governor will be framed and hung in the PHHS Department.  This recognition was well deserved!

In other good news, Futterer reported that Minnesota will be receiving $1.2 Million for improvements to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) also known as Food Support.  Approximately 75% of this funding will be distributed to counties.  Click here if you need information about getting Food Support.

Sue Futterer gave the Board a high-level overview on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion and its impact to Minnesota and Cook County.

Futterer also announced the resignation of Social Worker Hilja Iverson which the Board accepted with regrets.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the 10/16/12 Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Winter Maintenance for Subordinate Government Service District Roads
The County Board approved snowplowing bids for Evergreen Road, Mile O'Pine Road, Voyageur's Point and West Rosebush Lane with all awards going to the low bidder.

A Public Hearing was held to consider making changes to the Cook County Fee Schedule for E911 signs and E911 sign posts.  The change to these fees was approved by the Board.

Exterior Courthouse Lighting
The Board authorized purchase and installation of (2) light poles along the north sidewalk at the Courthouse as presented by Maintenance Director Brian Silence at a cost of $4838.  These lights are being installed as a safety measure.

Proposed Wind Tower Ordinance Amendments
Office of Planning and Zoning Director, Tim Nelson, presented a copy of a proposed ordinance amendment to the wind tower portion of the Cook County Tower Facility Ordinance.  The proposed amendment addresses Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT).  The County Board voted to approve a Public Hearing for this matter to be held before the Planning Commission on November 14, 2012 at a time to be determined by the Planning Commission.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous Items
The Board accepted a donation of $55 to the Sherrif's Department and a power washer to Search & Rescue.  The donation was given in appreciation of Search & Rescue finding missing canoeists on Brule Lake.

Braidy Powers led the County Board through a 3rd Quarter Review of the General Fund Budget.  After adjustments for grants, the Net Actual Total is 63% of the Budgeted Total with 75% of the year completed.

The County Board set 10/23/12 from 1-3:00 to review the 2013 Budget as part of the regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.

One Percent Project Updates
Commissioner Hakes reported that legal documents between the County, City of Grand Marais, ISD166 and the YMCA are being finalized.

Other Meetings
Bruce Martinson reminded the Board of the Joint County and City of Grand Marais meeting with the EDA on Monday 10/22/12 at 3:00 pm at City Hall.

MN Senator Tom Bakk will be in attendance at the 10/23/12 Board Meeting.  The County Board identified several priority issues to discuss with Senator Bakk including:  Parks & Trails Legacy Funding, Cook County Airport runway extension safety issue, Veterans Services, Sales Tax on ARMER, costs associated with Voter ID if it passes, restoration to Violence Prevention funding.

Voter ID
The County Board voted unanimously to oppose the proposed Voter ID amendment.  This was a business decision made on the part of the County Board because of the unknown implementation costs.  The proposed Voter ID amendment language is vague and there is no clear understanding of how it will be implemented or what the costs will be.

Meeting Minutes
For complete minutes of the County Board Meetings contact Janet Simonen at 387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.  The meeting may also be viewed in its entirety at Boreal.TV.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Board Meeting 10/9/12: ATVs, Community Center Agreements, Courthouse Security

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the 10/9/12 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Subordinate Service District Request
Tom Lake residents Steve Sopata and John Muhich came before the Board to request consideration for creation of a Subordinate Service District to snowplow on Irish Creek, Tom Lake and Powers Lake roads.  Sopata and Muhich reported an estimated 20 property owners have signed a petition in support of this request.  The County Board voted unanimously to schedule a Public Hearing on this matter.

Highway Department
The County board welcomed  recently hired Assistant County Engineer Sam Muntean after he was introduced by County Engineer David Betts.

The County Board voted to approve the final payment on project CP 12-02 Furnish Aggregate Stockpile, Class 1 and Class 5, to Edwin E. Thoreson in the amount of $31,622.13.  The overage of $7209.78 was due to slight variances in crushing totals at the various pits and to the crushing of 1,000 additional cubic yards for multiple maintenance projects.

The Board authorized a capital purchase of $2914.64 for office furniture for Assistant Engineer Sam Muntean.

Cook County Ordinance #54 Review
Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk presented the Annual Report from the Sheriff's Office, Highway Department, and DNR on ATV Use in Cook County.  Sheriff Falk reported that no citations were issued in 2011 and just one citation has been issued to date in 2012.  The Sheriff also noted that according to Cook County Conservation Officers, fewer wetland violations are occurring since the permission to ride ATVs on the shoulders of most County Roads was granted with this Ordinance.

Ordinance #54 shall expire of its own accord 3 years after the effective date of July 1, 2010, but the County Board could delete the expiration language from the Ordinance.  The Board agreed to put this discussion on the agenda for a future meeting, including the possibility of scheduling a Public Hearing.

Cook County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan
The Board authorized an Amendment to the County's All-Hazard Mitigation Plan as proposed by Emergency Manager Jim Wiinanen.   The changes in this amendment will allow Cook County to propose projects to include a community safe room, improved GIS capability for wildfire mitigation and response, protection of ground and surface water supplies, and burial of utilities lines and redundant communications infrastructure.

Snowplow Bids
The County Board moved to award the 2012-2013 winter season snow removal bid to low bidder Concrete Design and Landscaping as recommended by Maintenance Director Brian Silence.

County Auditor-Treasurer Business
The Board approved the Report of Unclaimed Property for a total of $198.71.

The Board passed a resolution to accept State of MN Agreement No. 02050 entitled "Grant Agreement for Airport Excluding Land Acquisition" for the Airport Runway Pavement Rehabilitation Program.

Cook County Revolving Loan Fund Requests
As recommended by the County Revolving Loan Committee, several requests for funding were approved with little need for discussion including:  LeAnn Zunker of 1010 Interiors ($5,000), Jennifer Stoltz of Cook County Coop ($75,000), Shawn Maravigli for lawn maintenance business ($10,650), and Charles Skinner of Lutsen Mountains Corp for snow making equipment ($25,000).

Represented by Tom Ryder, Charles Skinner of Lutsen Mountain Corp also requested $49,000 to purchase ~5-acres adjacent to the Lutsen Mountains parking lot from George Nelson.  This loan was approved with the assurance that this loan approval was not contingent upon, nor a demonstration of support for, the EDA to purchase 4-acres from Lutsen Mountain.

Matt Geretschlaeger presented a revised funding request for his company Superior Zip Line, LLC, to build a zip line operation on the Gunflint Trail. Geretschlaeger reduced the size of his originally proposed project by downsizing the building and reducing the total project request from $929,300 to $825,000.  He also reported that he was unable to retain bank financing.  As a result, Geretschlaeger is restructuring his finance plan in part by increasing his request from IRRB by $100,000 to $350,000.  The amount requested from the County Revolving Loan fund remains the same at $250,000 with security for this loan provided by land owned by Geretschlaeger.  This request was approved by the County Board on a 4-1 vote with Sue Hakes opposed.  Hakes felt the land proposed as security wasn't enough and that the business plan didn't support the debt.

Grand Marais Public Library 
Librarian Linda Chappell reported to the Board that the public is enjoying the new building and programs being offered in the expanded library space.  She also expressed the gratitude of the Library Board to the County for their help.

Chappell submitted landscaping bills totaling $9,395.06 which were approved for payment from the 1% tax as originally budgeted for the Library Project.  The County Board also approved the ~$53,600 remaining to finish the north wall and purchase furniture

Community Center Contracts
The County Board approved several documents related to the Community Center Project as presented by County Attorney Tim Scannell and Attorney Baiers Hereen:
a)  Draft Management Agreement between Cook County and the YMCA
b) Draft Joint Powers Agreement between the City and the County regarding cost-sharing for the facility
c) Draft Purchase Agreement with Contingencies for the West End of ISD166.

Each of these agreements has been agreed to in principal by the parties involved (Grand Marais City Council, ISD#166 School Board and Cook County Board of Commissioners) and are being routed for final changes and attorney reviews.

Arrowhead Health Alliance
The Board approved the Arrowhead Health Alliance 2nd Amended Joint Powers Agreement for Health Care Services to include St. Louis County in this alliance.

The County Board held a closed session with Steven Swenson of CJES to receive his Security Report and discuss Security Plans for Cook County.

The Board held a closed session to discuss non-public health data of a county employee.

Meeting Minutes
Official Meetings Minutes of the County Board may be obtained by calling Janet Simonen at 218-387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.