Tuesday, August 13, 2013

8/13/13 County Board Meeting: More Budgets, County Administrator Recruitment, Highway Department Annual Report

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Doo-Kirk, Gamble, Hakes and Martinson were present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, and Bev Wolke.

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

Tennis Court (moved to earlier spot on the agenda)
During the County Budget Hearings last week, the County Board moved to hire Skadberg Masonry to build the sidewalk and access ramp along the east side of the North and South Tennis Courts. Skadberg Masonry quoted the lowest cost.  The Board also authorized Wade Cole, ORB Management, to solicit costs for installing a drinking fountain that had been purchased several years ago by the County, but never installed.  Wade Cole participated in today's meeting via Skype to discuss with the Board, the cost of that installation.  The Board unanimously authorized moving forward with the drinking fountain at an estimated cost of $1200 for installation, $1300 for PUC hookup.  The Board will request that the PUC waive the hookup fees.  The County will be responsible for the monthly charges.

Recycling Center
Planning Director Tim Nelson notified the Board that the Recycling Center Operator retired last week and requested the Board authorize posting the position.  With regrets, the County Board accepted the resignation of Jeff Sylvester and approved posting the position in-house.

Community Center Director, Diane Booth
The County Board approved the lease agreement between Cook County and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) for specified areas of the Cook County Community Center for AEOA Employment and Training activities.  The AEOA office has recently been relocated from its former location at ISD166 to the Community Center and is working out well for clients and AEOA Staff.

Private Land Exchange Request
The County Board denied a request from John Scheef to exchange 80-acres of property he owns (PID 53-118-4100) with County-owned property.

Budget Hearings continued
Sheriff Mark Falk and Emergency Manager Jim Wiinanen reviewed their 2014 Budget proposals with the County Board.  Falk and Wiinanen were unable to attend the Budget Hearings last week. The Board heard requests from other Department Heads and Community Groups on August 5-6, 2013.

The MN Legislature has capped the property tax levy for Counties to ~3%.  Current requests total an approximate 7.79% increase.  The Board requests that each Department Head demonstrate what a 5% cut in their expenses would look like and how they might increase their revenues.

The preliminary levy must be adopted by September 10.

Cook County Administrator Recruitment
David Unmacht, Springsted Group, met with the Board via Skype.  Unmacht reported that 36 applications have been received for the County Administrator position, noting that 21 of the applicants are from MN.  The candidate list will be reviewed and initially pared down to candidates with the most potential. From that list, the top candidates will be selected for interviews.  Unmacht and the Board are pleased with the strong response.  The Board is working to have Administrator begin work by November 1, 2013.

Personnel Committee
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioner Bruce Martinson reported on the recommendations of the Personnel Committee on which they serve.  They reported that several jobs in the Highway Department were rewritten with minor changes. Two job descriptions were rewritten due to reorganization of some duties within the Assessor Office and Public Health and Human Services.  And, the Personnel Committee recommended an upgraded job description for the Emergency Management Director.  All recommendations were discussed and approved by the County Board.

The Personnel Committee also recommended the methodology used by Cook County to rate its jobs be evaluated and upgraded accordingly so that all positions are accurately documented and fairly rated.

Bond Payments for the Cedar Grove Business Park
The County and the City are working on a written agreement regarding the Cedar Grove Business Park bond payments.  These payments are ~$120,000 annually to be split equally by the County and the City. Ultimately, this agreement will be signed by Cook County, the City of Grand Marais, and the EDA.

Arrowhead Regional Corrections (ARC) 
The Board moved to pay its $81,600 portion of the ARC Asset Preservation and Capital Improvement Projects in full and up front as opposed to making payments.

County Highway Department Work Session
Highway Engineer David Betts, Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad, and Highway Department Accountant Lisa Sorlie presented the 2012 Annual Report for the Cook County Highway Department.  In addition, reports were given on the 2nd Quarter Financials for 2013, Maintenance Project updates and Construction Projects.  Betts reported that the right-hand downhill lane on the Gunflint Trail will be closed for approximately 3-4 weeks for blasting being done for the Superior Zip Line just north of Grand Marais.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes for this meeting may be obtained by contacting the County Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218/387-3640 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV