Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Human Services and County Board Meetings of 2013

Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes and Board Members Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Carla LaPoint, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson, and Fritz Sobanja were all in attendance at today's meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Martina Mellang, and Janet Simonen.

Introductions of New PHHS Staff
Public Health and Human Services Director Sue Futterer was pleased to introduce several new employees at today's meeting including Sheila Wieben, Beth Faraone, Jared Scheel and Alison McIntyre.  All were welcomed by the Human Services Board.

Committee Reports
(for more details on any of these committees, contact the representatives identified below)
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency--Sue Hakes reported AEOA will meet tomorrow 12/19/12.
Arrowhead Health Alliance Joint Powers--Sue Hakes reported AHA did not meet ine December.
Arrowhead Regional Correction--Jan Hall reported ARC will meet this Friday.
Community Health Board--Jan Hall reported on the results of the County Top 10 Health Issues.
Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee--Jerry Lilja and Carla LaPointe reported the Advisory Committee has not met this month.
Health Care Planning Committee--Jim Johnson reported on Hospital budget, Ed Niemi retirement.
North Shore Collaborative--Sue Hakes reported on the (5) major goals of the NSC.

Health Care Access Transportation
Jan Parish gave an information report on Medical Assistance Access Transportation, explaining that this service is for persons eligible for Medical Assistance in need of transportation to medical facilities.  Parish reported that approximately 60 clients/year are provided approximately 20 rides/month. This is an important service provided to ensure access to medical care for those in need.  The County is reimbursed 100% for providing this service, volunteer drivers are paid 20 cents/mile.

November Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Accounting Supervisor Jan Parish gave an overview of the Budget through November 30, 2013.  Use of the PHHS Fund Balance is over the budget by ~$50,000.

Director's Report
Director Sue Futterer reported on the progress of Region 3 Redesign for Child Support services. A regional meeting of Human Service directors, County Administrators and Commissioners will be held January 29, 2013 at a location to be determined.

Futterer also reported on the "Top 10 County Health Issues" which were identified by a Community Health Assessment conducted in Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Counties.  The Top 3 Health Issues in each of these counties was the same with 1) Obesity, 2) Mental Health, and 3) Alcohol, Tobacco & Drug Use all of highest concern.

Futterer reported that she participated in a free service at the December Association of Minnesota Conference entitled "Insights Discovery Profile and the Service Value Wheel".  She enjoyed taking the assessment and the raising of self awareness.  Tools such as these could be useful tool for understanding others and improving teamwork.

I Am Adam Lanza's Mother article
Sue Hakes recommended the Board and the PHHS Staff read the article entitled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" which has spread like wildfire over social media in the days since the Newtown, CT school shooting.  A discussion followed that acknowledged that we are all Adam Lanza's neighbor, aunt, mother, teacher, sister, employers, social workers and friend.  As the Human Services Board and Human Services staff we are uniquely positioned to help those in need of mental health services, get those services.

Items for Board Action
The Board made a motion to accept 2012 donations in the amount of $5650 to be used to support those in need.

The Board raised the rate of pay for In Home Support contract workers to $16/hour.

County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for this last Board meeting in 2013.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Fritz Sobanja and Jim Johnson, December 19, 2012.
Commissioners and County employees bid farewell to Commissioners Jim Johnson and Commissioner Fritz Sobanja by celebrating with cake and coffee.  Both Sobanja and Johnson served for 8 years.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to come before the County Board at today's meeting.

Wetlands Management Plan Committee
Planning & Zoning Director, Tim Nelson, and David Demmer came before the Board to request a motion to support the development of a Cook County Wetland Management Plan Committee for 2013.  The first goal of the committee will be to establish Cook County's highest priorities for wetland management.  If you are interested in participating on this committee, please contact David Demmer at 387-3634, or your commissioner, to learn more.

2013 Cook County Budget and Levy
The County Board approved the 2013 Budget and set the property tax levy for 2013 at 2%, a reduction from the preliminary levy set at 5.76%.

The Board approved the purchase of a dual band radio for the Search & Rescue Hall at a cost of ~$560 as recommended by Jim Wiinanen (Emergency Management) and Rowan Watkins (Radio/IT Technician).

The Board passed a motion for Cook County to enter in a contract to perform general demolition, concrete and excavation work on the Cook County Family YMCA, subject to review by the County Attorney's Office.  The Board also authorized purchasing concrete rebar now as it is anticipated these costs will go up in the coming weeks.

Personnel Committee 
The Board authorized (4) changes to job descriptions and grade levels as recommended by the Personnel Committee (Jan Hall, Bruce Martinson, Diane Booth, Sue Futterer, Brian Silence, Janet Simonen).  These jobs were in the IT and PHHS Departments.

Subordinate Governmental Service District for Tom Lake Area Roads
The Board discussed the pending Subordinate Governmental Service District for Tom Lake Area Roads which was approved November 13, 2012.  Some of the affected property owners have voiced opposition since the Public Hearing.  The Board discussed the process for citizens to follow if they want to reverse this decision.  For more information, the public is encouraged to contact Braidy Powers at 387-3646.  Go to MN Statute 375.B to read more about County Subordinate Service Districts.

One Percent Projects
Sue Hakes distributed the construction progress meeting notes reviewed and discussed at the weekly Construction Progress meetings held on the Cook County Family YMCA.  This information is available on the County Website.

County/USFS Land Exchange
The Commissioners expressed concern over the values proposed by the USFS for lands to be exchanged between the USFS and Cook County.  Commissioners Sobanja and Martinson, Assessor Betty Schulz and Highway Department personnel will be meeting with the USFS to discuss.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the formal meeting minutes for the December 19 meetings may be obtained by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3687 or by going to the County Website.  For a video of these meetings go to Boreal.TV.

Farewell to Fritz and Jim!

At the last County Board meeting of 2013, the Commissioners and County employees bid farewell to Commissioner Fritz Sobanja and Commissioner Jim Johnson.  Both Sobanja and Johnson served 8 years on the County Board. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

County Board Meeting December 11, 2012: EDA Budget, Courthouse Security, Board Statement

County Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Johnson (8:45 a.m.), Martinson, and Sobanja were all present for the December 11 County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Opening Statement
Board Chair Jan Hall read a statement on behalf of the County Board:

"The County Board is very aware of a complaint that has been made against our Cook County Attorney.  This complaint is being investigated by the proper authorities in an appropriate manner and no decisions or findings have yet been made.  Pursuant to MN Statues, County Commissioners have very limited authority over the other elected positions of County Attorney, Auditor, Recorder, and Sheriff, but will continue to monitor the situation.  We would like to express our deep concern for all the parties involved, as well as for our community during this difficult time."

Public Comment
Grand Marais resident and parent Jason Zimmer came before the County Board and asked the Board to request for the resignation of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell.  Commissioner-elect Garry Gamble gave an overview of his understanding of MN Statute 351.14.

Cook County Curling Club
Bill Parish requested the Board grant approval to install 4 cameras and televisions in the Community Center for curling club fans to witness curling activities.  Parish reported that the equipment will be paid for by the Curling Club and removed during the off-season.  The Board approved 4-0 (Johnson absent).

Highway Department
The Board approved a request to purchase a Gang Charger for charging Armer handheld radios at a cost of $645.39 plus shipping.  Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad and Highway Engineer David Betts both said the ARMER radios are working extremely well.

The Board approved the purchase of (2) 5.0 horsepower two stage air compressors for the Hovland and Schroeder shops to air tires and run air tools at a cost just under $4,000.  This equipment will be purchased from the Highway Department reserve account.

Information Systems
As requested by the County Board at its November 20, 2012 meeting, County IT Director Danna McKenzie and Mike Hatlestad of WDIO came before the Board with a plan to work with Verizon Wireless in the construction of a new tower, transfer of equipment from the old tower, and demolition of the old tower.  In short, the Board approved the recommended plan to transfer ownership of the existing WDIO tower to the County for the cost of $1.  This will allow the County to collect lease revenues of approximately $2000/month between now and when the tower is demolished.  These revenues will help the County offset the cost of demolishing the tower which is estimated at roughly $30,000.  Verizon will build the new tower to be owned by the County, an investment which will be offset by rent abatement to Verizon.

As recommended by the Land Records Committee, the Board authorized using $6800 of funds from the Land Records Improvement Funds to improve and streamline the assessment of properties and contribute to a more data-driven decision process for the County Assessor's Office.  This request was supported by Danna MacKenzie and Assessor Betty Schultz.  It is important to note that the Lands Records Improvement funds are collected by the Recorder's Office by statute.

Abatement Request
The Board denied a property tax abatement request from Dennis Rysdahl for the AmericInn of Tofte, and determined that the property was taxed correctly.  Recently, the Department of Revenue reviewed the class of the AmericInn and confirmed the commercial class at which it is presently assessed.

Gitchi Gami Trail Project
The Board approved a match of $1667 toward a $10,000 STAR Grant from the MN Lake Superior Coastal Program project to work toward finding an agreement to complete the Gitchi Gami Trail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.  Partners in this project include MN DOT, the DNR, the Gitchi Gami Trail Association, Lake and Cook Counties.  Duane Lula, of the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, will be managing the project; Lula was present to make this request and answer questions.

Board Per Diem and Salary/Legal Newspaper
The Board set the 2013 per diems and salary for Cook County Commissioners at no change.  Commissioner Hakes requested that the Board review its policy on paying alternates to committees as a way to reduce costs.  

Thursday, January 3, at 2 pm was set as the deadline for qualified newspapers to submit proof of their qualifications and provide 2013 rates for publishing legal notices.  Contact Braidy Powers for more information.

Economic Development Authority (EDA)
EDA Board Chair Mark Sandbo and Nancy Grabko of Community Funding Solutions (CFS) and EDA Housing Administrator, came before the board to answer questions about the EDA Housing Program budget and performance. The County Board had several contract performance and financial related questions.  CFS has requested a $25,000 increase in pay.

Mark Sandbo and Mike Litfin also answered questions about the EDA Proposed Budget for 2013; two scenarios were offered by the EDA in the amounts of $188,000 (plus $60K bond payment from County) and $150,000 (plus $60K bond payment from County).  The difference between the two proposed budget scenarios is that one includes a full-time EDA Director at $60,000/year salary and the other includes a half-time Director at $30,000/year salary.

The County sets the Levy for the EDA, but the EDA Board is responsible for the budget and spending decisions.

In both 2013 Budget scenarios, the EDA has included:
a)  Additional ~$60,000 payment from the County to share with the City of Grand Marais the Cedar Grove Business Park annual bond payment of ~$120,000.  The County Board passed a resolution for this at its September 11, 2012 Board Meeting.
b)  $25,000 increase in pay for total of $62,000 paid to Community Funding Solutions for managing the EDA Housing Program.

The County Board will hold an additional Budget Meeting on Monday, December 17, from 10 am to Noon to finalize their 2013 Budget including the EDA Budget.

Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP)
George Wilkes of CCLEP came before the Board to request $4000 from the County to support a half-time position that pays $21,000 for a CCLEP Coordinator.  The balance of the salary would be shared by the City of Grand Marais ($2K), Lutheran Community Foundation ($2K), and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation ($13K).  The Board supported this request unanimously.  CCLEP has been involved in several energy efficiency projects that benefit the public including the 2010 Courthouse HVAC energy efficiency retrofit, the 2010 Grand Marais City building lighting retrofit, and support and advocacy for enhanced energy efficiency in both the Library expansion project and new Cook County Family YMCA design.

Courthouse Space Issues
For several reasons--including improving work efficiency and increased safety--the County Board formed a Space Subcommittee to review county space needs.   The Subcommittee has met with Department Heads to discuss space needs and possible space re-configurations at the Courthouse.  Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Sue Hakes presented the results of that work and the Board recommended moving forward with getting cost estimates for Phase I of the proposed reorganization.  In Phase I, (2) safe interview rooms will be created for use by Human Services and Probation in the area currently used as the Law Library.  Soil and Water will move from second floor to first floor into an area currently used by Planning & Zoning.  The Soil and Water Office on the 2nd floor will be divided to serve as the Law Library and as an office for a Social Worker.  No decisions were made regarding changes to the IT, Recorder, and Assessor Offices but will be reviewed in 2013.

County Attorney Office
The County Board passed a motion authorizing the County to contract for additional attorney services as needed by the County Attorney's Office, County Departments and the Board due to temporary increased workloads, subject to review by County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Board Chair Janice Hall.

Courthouse Security
The Board held a closed session to discuss county security issues and review the security recommendations made by the Courthouse Security Committee.  After the closed session, the meeting was re-opened and the Board passed a motion directing the Courthouse Security Committee to move forward on the following recommendations:

a.  Comprehensive Weapons Screening for building users
b.  Security Cameras
c.  Duress Buttons
d.  Enhanced Courtroom Security
e.  Safety Training for County employees
f.  Intercom/P.A. System
g.  Human Services/Probation Interview Room Enhancements

Tom Lake Area Subordinate Governmental Service District (SGSD)
Two property owners in the proposed Tom Lake Area SGSD came before the Board to express concerns about the costs and their opposition to it.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the Official Meeting Minutes for December 11, 2012 will be made available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  A video of this meeting is available at Boreal.TV