Tuesday, November 13, 2012

County Board Meeting Nov. 13: Tom Lake Subordinate Government Service District, Superior National Golf Course Funding, YMCA Management Agreement Signed

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

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to come before the county board.

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Staffing
Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, recommended the Board approve (2) hires in Human Services.  The Board approved hiring Jared Scheel and Beth Farone to replace staff that resigned; both will begin on December 1.

Assessor/Land Commissioner
Newly hired Assessor Betty Schultz came before the County Board today and was re-introduced.  Schultz expressed appreciation for being able to live in Cook County and promised always to advocate for Cook County.

The Board approved a tax abatement as presented by Schultz and based on information provided by the taxpayer, US Forest Service, and MN Department of Revenue for Sawbill Lake Campground.

Community Center/Extension 
The Board gave approval for the AEOA Office to be moved to the existing Community Center with accomodations made for classroom space and a separate office.  The ~$600 cost will be split evenly between AEOA and the County.

The Board authorized Diane Booth to proceed with the wetland mitigation process for the area designated for a new softball field planned to be built as part of the new Community Center outdoor area.  Booth will come back to the Board for approval before signing off for the purchase of wetland replacements.

In lieu of renovating the existing Community Center as a warming house, the Board approved (2) buildings to be erected on the existing Community Center grounds:  1) A 19' x 16' equipment building attached to the east end of the existing Community Center  to house the Zamboni, hoses, and snow blowing equipment for the outdoor ice rinks. 2) A 24' x 36' warming house to be built just north of the skating and hockey rinks.

The Cook County Amateur Hockey Association has offered to pay for both buildings at a cost of  $14,500 and $14,800 respectively.  The County Board agreed that up to $50,000 will be provided out of the $9.5 M One Percent funds to insulate, wire and finish the interior of these buildings.  ORB Management will oversee the building and finishing of these buildings.

Diane Booth and Pat Campanaro worked together to submit a grant request for the Local Government Innovation Awards hosted by the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Partnership with Incommons. The proposal, 1 + 1 + 1 + Y = Cook County Community Wellness,  features the partnership between the County, City, ISD166 and the YMCA to consolidate wellness services for Cook County.  If successful, $25,000 could be awarded to put toward the project. Winners will be determined by Minnesotans voting!  Be sure to cast your vote for this project!

Diane Booth asked the Board about submitting a grant to build a permeable pavement parking lot between the baseball field and the tennis courts.  The Board opted not to pursue this as even with grant support, this would add cost to the Cook County Family YMCA project.  Additionally, the gravel parking space planned is also permeable and easier to maintain/plow than permeable pavement.

Office of Planning and Zoning 
On behalf of the Ulland Brothers and Scott Harrison, Bill Lane requested an extension of the previously granted Interim Use Permit to use a 20-acre parcel of land at the intersection of TH61 and CSAH 5 to recycle and stockpile blast rock from the trail project.  The Board approved an extension to allow the stockpile to remain on site until it can be used in May/June 2013.

Approximately 15-20 property owners interested in learning more about establishing a Subordinate Governmental Service District (SGSD) for Irish Creek, Tom Lake and Powers Lake Road came to the Public Hearing regarding the matter.  Most were in strong favor of establishing the SGSD, 1-2 were not opposed, but wanted more information about costs.  After significant discussion, the Board passed a motion to move forward in the establishment of an SGDS for Irish Creek Road, Powers Lake Road, Tom Lake Road, Wilderness Trail and approximately 1100 feet of Brumbaugh Road from Tom Lake Road to the Tom Lake Boat Landing.  The Board also defined the District as all parcels, regardless of year round use, that abut the proposed roadways, as well as those parcels that directly access the roadways.  This will affect an estimated 69 property owners for the cost to be shared evenly.

Cook County Highway Department
County Engineer David Betts, supported by Supervisor Russell Klegstad and Accountant Lisa Sorlie, provided the Board with an overview of their 3rd Quarter Financial Statement and Revised 2013 Budget.  This information will be considered in finalizing the 2013 Budget.

The Board approved the Master Partnership Contract between the Department of Transportation and Cook County.  The Board also approved a Special Event Permit for the Grand Marais Christmas Parade to be held on November 23 from 5:00 to 5:30 pm.

Superior National Golf Course Project
EDA Director Mark Sandbo, Superior National Golf Course Manager Bob Fenwick, John Waite of Sirius Golf Advisors, and Golf Course Architect Jeffrey Brauer all came before the County Board to present a new proposal and financing plan for Superior National Golf Course.  Several members of the Public and West End Business Community were also present for the discussion.

John Waite overviewed the project, Bob Fenwick presented the financial plan:

                              County                       $3,100,000 ($344,000 already spent)
                              IRRB                                600,000 (not granted yet)
                              Revenue Bonds          1,100,000 (plus $400K payoff of bonds)
                              Developer                          60,000 (road construction)
                              TOTAL                         $4,860,000

After a fairly lengthy discussion, the Board passed a motion on a 3-2 vote (Hakes and Hall opposed) to authorize an additional $2,700,000 for this project.  Commissioner Hakes said she voted against it because a) it was a significantly different plan and dollar amount than the project put forward at the time the public voted for the One Percent Sales Tax Referendum, b) discomfort with taking on additional debt through bonding which was not a part of the original proposal. The revenue bonds to be sold could have a negative impact on taxpayers without any financial commitment behind them, c) the Project was unable to provide a 50% match from the local business community, IRRB and DEED as earlier assured by the Project, d) the current plan deviates greatly from the earlier recommendations by Sirius Golf Advisors to hire outside management for the course, e) concern about reality of revenue projections and number of rounds.  Commissioner Hakes said she would support a project at a lesser dollar amount and less risk to taxpayers, something closer to the project proposed at the time of the referendum.

Miscellaneous Issues
The Board voted to support (2) recommendations from the Revolving Loan Committee.  The first is to write off a loan with a past due balance and take possession of the powder coating equipment property.  The second is to restructure the terms of a loan from a local restaurant.

The Board moved to approve an "Agreement to Initiate" as presented by Patty Deshaw who works for the Forest Service and is managing the land exchange with the County.  This agreement allows each paty to enter lands of the other to prepare land value appraisals, surveys, inventories of wildlife and wetlands to determine values and merits of the exchange.  This agreement does not obligate either party to continue the land exchange.

In response to the County Board's interest in election judges, Braidy Powers provided eligibility and qualification requirements to become an election judge.

In response to a question from Commissioner Martinson, Braidy Powers reported that he anticipates receipt of the Property Appraisal for the Tip of the Trail property any day.

Cook County Family YMCA
The Board approved several final documents for the Cook County Family YMCA including the Purchase Agreement and all addenda, the Joint Powers Agreement with the City of Grand Marais and the YMCA Management Agreement.

Chris Francis, Executive Director of the Duluth YMCA, as well as the Duluth HR Director were present for today's signing of the YMCA Management Agreement with the County.  Francis expressed his enthusiasm and optimism for the Cook County Family YMCA.  Signing this agreement was a significant event for both the YMCA and the residents of Cook County.

Meeting Minutes
A video of today's meeting is available on Boreal.TV.  Official meeting minutes may be obtained by calling Janet Simonen at 218 387 3602 or by going to the County Website.