Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14 County Board Meeting: One Water Shed One Plan Proposal, EDA Loan Repayment Plan and Budget, OPZ Permits

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's Board Meeting.  Also present were County Administrator Jay Kieft, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, and acting County Attorney Molly Hicken.

Public Comment Period
No member of the public opted to address the County Board.

One Watershed One Plan Proposal, Water Plan Coordinator Ilena Berg
Ilena Berg and Dan Schutte (Conservation Outreach Coordinator for Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District), with support from Jim Hall and Joan Farnum of the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District, came before the Board to present information on One Watershed, One Plan and how Lake and Cook County are working together.  One Watershed, One Plan is a vision to build local water plan strategies around Minnesota's major watersheds.  The Board passed a motion of support for One Watershed, One Plan and the collaboration between Lake and Cook Counties.

The County Board approved Neil Hansen and Chuck Futterer to the Water Plan Committee as recommended by Ilena Berg.

Community Center/Extension, Director Diane Booth
The County Board appointed Bill Parish and Bryan Carpenter to the Community Center Board of Trustees as recommended by Diane Booth.

The County Board appointed Debbie Benedict and Bill Huggins to the U of M Extension Committee as recommended by Diane Booth.

As requested by Booth, the Board authorized carry over of ~$2000 from 2013 to 2014 to fund the Back Pack Program.

Personnel Committee Recommendations
Jay Kieft reported that the Personnel Committee reviewed the principles and purpose of the Decision-Band Method of job classification and will be doing some training to maximize and test the potential of this method.  Kieft also reported on the Personnel Committee recommendations for job classifications on (2) new job descriptions in PHHS, and (1) job reclassification due to significant changes and increased responsibilities in a PHHS Case Aide position.  The Board approved all.

2014 Unorganized Fire Levies
The Board approved 2014 fire levies for Colvill, Grand Marais Extension, Gunflint Trail, Hovland, Lutsen Extension and Maple Hill.  Fire Levies will be approved annually.

Economic Development Authority (EDA) Loan Repayment Plan, Scott Harrison
Scott Harrison, EDA Board Member, presented the EDA Budget and Loan Repayment Plan to the County Board.

Harrison reported that the EDA has taken aggressive measures to address cash flow, debt and budget issues.  Such measures include laying off the Superior National Golf Course manager, laying off (2) SN employees, cuts to capital expenditures and not renewing the Community Funding Solutions (CFS) contract for housing administration.  In spite of these cost cutting measures, Harrison reported that the EDA will not be able to repay the County Loan of $175,000 for at least 2 years, possibly longer.

Harrison also reported on the $6,050,000 Superior National (SN) Golf Course Renovation project, approximately half of which will be funded through the One Percent Local Option Sales Tax.  The balance of this project will be paid through IRRRB funding and the sale of revenue bonds.  Commissioner Hakes expressed concern that not enough funding has been set aside for change orders, pricing index and contingency funding;  Harrison agreed.

Harrison gave the Board an update on its hiring of a Small Business Development Consultant and presented the job description that was advertised.  Commissioner Hakes expressed concern that the job description went far beyond the position that was actually to be filled.  Commissioner Doo-Kirk said that each applicant would be contacted to explain the change from hiring an EDA Director to a Small Business Development Consultant.

Office of Planning and Zoning, Administrator Bill Lane
The Board approved 3-2 (Hakes and Martinson opposed) a Conditional Use Permit to establish a hostel/bunkhouse in the FAR-3 zone district on property adjacent to County Road 14.  Hakes and Martinson had concerns about the hostel/bunkhouse conforming to State Lodging requirements, State Fire Code, lack of information about occupancy, and no plan for water, showers, and septic system.

The Board approved an Interim Use Permit to allow the continued use of a mobile home in the FAR-1 zone district on property adjacent to the Sugarloaf Road in Schroeder Township.

The Board approved (11) permits for gravel mining.  The Snow Creek/Waverly Pit (KGM Contractors, Inc.) permit will be renewed pending restorative measures for moving stockpiles and active vegetation restoration.  A permit for the Stan Bautch Gravel Mine is subject to a Planning Commission site review.

HOME Consortium
Because the EDA did not renew its contract with Nancy Grabko of Community Funding Solutions the Board voted to replace Grabko as one of its two representatives on the HOME Consortium. The County Board will make a new appointment.

Donation Received
The Board voted to accept a $2500 donation from the Mid-Gunflint Trail Association for a traffic sign on the Gunflint Trail.  This donation is greatly appreciated.

Association of Minnesota Counties District One Meeting
Cook County is hosting the AMC District Meeting on June 13-14.  Sue Hakes and Jay Kieft were assigned to propose to the Board some agenda options for this meeting.

One Percent Updates
Commissioner Hakes reported that the YMCA memberships are approaching 900 and Y programming is in full swing.  The building is performing well, and the few problems so far are being addressed.  In particular, Hakes reported that the water problem in the locker rooms is being addressed by ORB and JLG Architects.  She also said additional lockers are being moved from the City Pool to the Y to accommodate the significantly higher than anticipated membership.  Hakes represents the County Board on the Cook County Community YMCA Board.

The County Board also passed a motion to dissolve the Community Center Steering Committee recognizing their hard work and significant accomplishments.

Non-Mandated Levy Requests
The Board appointed Commissioners Gamble and Martinson to a committee to study requiring audits for non-mandated levies over $50,000.  There was also discussion about asking non-profits and other organizations receiving non-mandated funding to provide the Board with cuts they would have to make should there be a 5% reduction in funding.  Commissioner Hakes opposed this request stating that the non-profits receiving levy funds are a critical component to Cook County's economic development, health and wellness, education, arts, the environment and our quality of life.  She described these organizations as "providing the bloom on the flower".

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes will be made available by contacting the County Administrator's Office at 218/387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety is available on Boreal.TV.