Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9 County Board Meeting: Vacation Rentals, Cook County Family YMCA Rates, Tennis Courts

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were present at today's County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen and Bev Wolke.

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

Highway Department, Highway Engineer David Betts
The County Board approved awarding the grading and gravel contract for West Rosebush Lane to LaBoda Grading, Inc.  LaBoda Grading was the sole bidder.

Highway Engineer, David Betts, and the County Board discussed recent legislative changes to 1) allow all 87 counties to levy, by board resolution, a $10 per vehicle wheelage tax, and 2) enact up to 1/2% sales tax for transportation by board action, without holding a referendum.  Should the County decide to  enact these changes, it would bring ~$53,000/year (wheelage tax) and ~$650,000/year (sales tax) to Cook County to be used to improve roads and bridges.  The County Board discussed the pros and cons to residents of Cook County for both of these possible taxes.  No decision was made at this meeting, but will be addressed again.

Office of Planning & Zoning, Director Tim Nelson
Tim Nelson asked the County Board to consider modifying Cook County "after the fact" (penalty) fees from the $300 fee applied in all cases.  Applying the same penalty fee in all cases isn't always reasonable making it difficult for the Planning Commission to impose it in certain cases.  Commissioners Hall and Doo-Kirk will work with Nelson to examine the issue and present some options.

The County Board discussed vacation rental homes and cabins that are not in compliance with State Licensing requirements.  It is important that the owners of these properties obtain a State License and pay State/Local taxes for 3 reasons:  1)  safety, 2) to create a level playing field with hotels, motels and resorts, and 3) State and Local tax collections.   The Board discussed a possible local ordinance, but no decisions were made.

Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
The Board authorized extending the Gunflint Trail Assessment Grant to August 15, 2014 as recommended by the Firewise Committee.  This extension is necessary due to the late spring.

The Board approved a reduction in the Revolving Loan interest rate for the Birch Terrace Supper Club from 4.9% to 3.12% as requested by Brian Larsen and recommended by the Revolving Loan Fund Committee.  This reduction in the interest rate is contingent upon Larsen meeting with a volunteer from the newly formed Cook County Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer from the Small Business Development Center in Duluth for business advice.

The Board approved a Satisfaction of Mortage for Fall River Holding, LLC, DBA Stone Harbor, as they paid off their revolving loan on 1/31/13.

Public Health and Human Services, Director Sue Futterer
The Board passed a motion supporting the recommendation of Cook County Public Health and Human Services approving UCare and Medica as managed care organizations providing managed health care services in Cook County for the recipients of Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.  The final decision will be made by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The Board authorized Sue Futterer, Director of PHHS, in consultation with County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, to make the determination when necessary to grant PHHS Staff permission to travel outside the State of Minnesota without further approval by the County Board.

Cook County Community YMCA
Cook County Community YMCA Branch Director, Emily Marshall, and Duluth Family YMCA Executive Director, Chris Francis came before the County Board to present their 2013 Budget.  Marshall also shared the rates for the Cook County Community YMCA as follows:

  • Under 18:  $15/month
  • Adult:  $42/month
  • 1 Parent Family:  $51/month
  • 2 Parent Family:  $61/month
  • Youth Day Pass:  $5
  • Adult Day Pass:  $10
  • Family Day Pass:  $20
  • $50 Initiation Fee
Marshall and Francis reminded the Board that financial assistance is available for those who need it.  It was also noted that some YMCA Programming will begin even before the facility is complete!
Wade Cole, ORB Management, came before the Board to advise them that the Construction Contingency Fund is down to $44,378.  After some discussion, the County Board authorized transferring $67,764 from the Uncommitted One Percent Funds to the Community Center Project.  Just under $500,000 remains in the Uncommitted One Percent Funds.  

Tennis Courts Walkway and Drainage
Construction of the road between the existing tennis courts and the Cook County Community YMCA (aka YMCA) exposed faulty drainage in the SE corner of the northern courts.  Per Wade Cole, this problem has been resolved by connecting the existing drain tile to the YMCA Building drain tile.

The issue of accessibility to both the north and south tennis courts has also been raised.  Per Wade Cole and Dan Miller, ORB and JLG will work (at no charge) to design and manage the installation of an accessible sidewalk connecting the north and south courts along the east side.  Drainage from the surface of the north courts will also be addressed. 

This work on the tennis courts is not part of the current YMCA construction project and per Braidy Powers could be paid from the County Rec Fund.  The Board authorized Cole and Miller to design the sidewalk and drainage system and determine associated costs for Board consideration on July 16.

Fire Evacuation/Fire Drill Instructions
Janet Simonen went over the Fire Evacuation and Fire Drill procedures with the County Board.  A Fire Drill is being planned in the near future.

Cook County Administrator Position
The County Board met via Skype with David Unmacht of Springsted.  The purpose of this meeting was to review and modify the Informational Sheet being created by Springsted to solicit applications for the newly created Cook County Administrator position.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes may be obtained by going to the Cook County Website or by contacting Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  A video of this meeting in its entirety will be available on Boreal.TV.