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.