Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23 Cook County Board Meeting: Interim Use Permits, Wheelage Tax, Revolving Loan Fund

Today's County Board Meeting started a few minutes late due to a Fire Drill just before 8:30 am.

Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting. Also in attendance were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen and Bev Wolke.  (Board Chair Jan Hall was not present for the Emergency Management portion of this meeting.)

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

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS)
Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, reported on the Eligibility Worker Hiring process; currently there are (2) openings.  The Board approved hiring Jennifer Friest (apologies for not being certain of the spelling) to replace Sandy Petty.  An offer was extended to a second candidate but was rejected as this person accepted a job in Lake County for ~$3/hour more than the Cook County wage offered.  Futterer promised to report back to the Board after reconsidering the options for filling this position.

Office of Planning and Zoning
Planning and Zoning Administrator, Bill Lane, came before the Board with (1) Rezoning Request and (3) Interim Use Permit (IUP) Requests:

a)  The Board authorized a request to rezone 6.16 acres near Hedstrom Lumber Mill from Light Industrial to Forest Agricultural/Residential.
b)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to the Camp 20 Road for two years.
c)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to Lake Superior, but only after reducing the Planning Commission's recommendation of 4 years to 2 years.  The vote was 4-1 with Doo-Kirk opposed.
d)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to County Road #8, after reducing the Planning Commission's recommendation of 3 years to 2 years.

Both the County Board and the Planning Commission have directed OPZ Director Tim Nelson to update Cook County's Land Use Guide from 1997.  Nelson is supportive of this request and has identified specific issues that need to be addressed including:  sled-dog kennels, long-term recreational vehicle use and vacation rentals.  The Board established a small steering committee to review the existing plan and evaluate possible methods for proceeding with this update. Commissioners Hall and Doo-Kirk will participate on this committee as the liaison to the OPZ and Board representative on the Planning Commission, respectively.   The process for updating the Land Use Plan must provide an open and inclusive venue for the Public to provide input.

The Board authorized hiring Wenck Associates to update the Cook County Solid Waste Management Plan in the amount of $22,300.  This Plan is overdue and as a result, $111,900 in SCORE Grant Funds are being withheld.  Once the updated Plan is submitted, these funds will be released in total.

Highway Department
The County Board authorized hiring Westley Higgins as an Assistant Mechanic to replace the position vacated by Scott Corwin.  Higgins will begin work on August 5.

The Board approved a special event permit application from the Superior Cycling Association for the Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Race to be held on September 8, 2013.

The Board approved an extension to the USFS GLRI grant to combat invasive species in Cook County.  The original grant was approved in March 2011 and extended in February 2012.  This modification will expand the agreement from $100,000 to $172,501.  There is a 20% match and a December 31, 2014 deadline for spending these funds.

Proposed Wheelage Tax
The 2013 MN State Legislature amended MS 163.051 to allow for Counties to levy a wheelage tax on each motor vehicle kept in Cook County.  This annual wheelage tax per motor vehicle is limited to $10 until the end of 2017 when it may be increased to $20 per motor vehicle.

The Board passed a motion to NOT implement the wheelage tax requested by County Engineer David Betts, which was estimated to benefit Cook County in the amount of $52,780 to be used for "highway purposes".

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers brought several issues before the County Board for consideration:
A.  Claims for payment were approved.
B.  The Board approved a resolution accepting a State Grant for Airport Maintenance and Operation in the amount of $24,653.00.  This is the standard grant amount received by Cook County for over 20 years for basic operations at the airport.
C.  The Board voted 4-1 (Hakes opposed) to approve a $250,000 loan as recommended by the Cook County Revolving Loan Fund to Matt Geretschlaeger to fund Geretschlaeger's ZIP Line project at 689 Gunflint Trail just north of Grand Marais.  The City of Grand Marais has received an IRRRB Grant for $191,000 to bring Public Utilities to the site.  Geretschlaeger has also been approved for a $260,000 Small Business Administration Loan.  Hakes expressed concern that the Business Plan Financials do not justify the business venture as proposed.  Hakes also expressed her concern that the real estate collateral offered is not enough to make the risk to the County tolerable.
D.  The Board authorized purchasing a Fujitsu document scanner to replace the Recorder's Office scanner damaged during the last power outage at the Courthouse.  The cost of $5431 will be paid for using the Recorder's Equipment Fund.
E.  The Board approved an agreement to renew its election equipment maintenance agreement.
F-G.  The Board made a motion to approve the final Grant Agreement with the Cook County/Grand Marais Joint Economic Development Authority in Connection with the Superior National Golf Course Project.  The County has committed $3.1 million of One Percent Funds toward the renovation of the Superior National Golf Course.  The LTTA will provide $50,000 annually from 2013 through 2022 for Golf Course Marketing.  The balance of the project will be funded by bonding for $1.7 million.
H.  On June 25th, the EDA requested a 60 day loan of $300,000 for funding the Lake Superior water pipeline and golf course architectural services with the understanding that the IRRRB would reimburse the County within 60 days.  IRRRB reimbursement will not likely occur until late October so the Promissory Note was extended to a payment date of October 25, 2013.
I.  The Board authorized an amendment to its contract with JLG Architects to convert basing the design fees on 7.5% of the Cost of the Work to a fixed lump sum.  This amendment will streamline the accounting process and will limit the County's payment to JLG if existing project costs increase.
J.  The Board authorized a 120 day loan in the amount of $10,000 to the Superior Timber Wolves Sportman's Club in Tofte to pay for a bridge replacement on the Leveaux Trail just west of the Springdale Road in Tofte.

One Percent Projects
Braidy Powers reviewed the One Percent Funds by Project, showing the budget, $$ spent to date, and balances.

Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department
The Board appointed John Bottger and Fred Smith as Fire Relief Association Board members.

Emergency Management
The Board passed a motion to to proceed with cross border discussions leading to a Memorandum of Understanding between Cook County, Grand Portage, Neebing ON and Thunder Bay ON.

The Board passed a resolution to allocate SRS Title III money for specific uses including All Hazard Mitigation Plan duties and potentially establishing a Firewise Coordinator Position.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes will be made available by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3687 or by going to the Cook County Website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety will be made available on Boreal.TV