November 14th Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights
#LSN_News Law Enforcement Center
COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA November 14th , 2017 (LSN) Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, Nov. 14 Board of Commissioners Meeting:
Board of Water and Soil Resources Natural Resources Block Grant
Ilena Hansel, SWCD District Manager, asked the Board to approve the FY 2018-2019 State of MN Board of Water and Soil Resources Natural Resources Block Grant agreement and designate the District Manager as the grant’s authorized representative. The grant totals $108,557 for the two-year period.
Internal Position Changes
Administrator Cadwell added two items to the agenda related to internal position changes.
Allison Plummer, County employee since 2006, currently serving as an Eligibility Specialist in the Public Health & Human Services Department has been approved to take the vacant Financial Assistance Supervisor position. The Board also approved an internal posting for the newly vacant Eligibility Specialist position.
The Board also approved the appointment of Ben Hallberg to the Dispatcher/Jail Administrator Position. The position became available when Judy Sivertson, with more than 25 years of service with the County, announced her retirement effective December 2017. Hallberg has been with the County since 2004, and is currently working as a Deputy Sheriff. The vacant Deputy Sheriff position will hopefully be filled from the list of candidates identified to fill the last vacancy in the Department.
Cook County received five responses to our Jail Study Request for Proposals. Interviews with the two most competitive consultants were completed the week of Nov. 6, and hope to bring a recommendation to the Board at the Nov. 21 meeting. The scope of the project includes a discussion of the jail program within the context of the overall County program including the courts system, Attorney’s Office. The evaluation will also address space needs, at a high-level, throughout the County before getting into a specific study of jail space needs and before making any recommendations for possible future capital projects.
The positing for County Highway Engineer candidates closed on Oct. 27, with four qualified applicants in the pool. Interviews with all four candidates will be held on Nov. 17.
Administrator Cadwell also reminded Commissioners and the public that the Truth in Taxation meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27, at 6 pm, in the Commissioners Room. Additional and specific budget conversations will be scheduled at upcoming Commissioner Meetings.
Capital & Equipment Bonding Update
Capital and equipment bonding that has been discussed since 2016, will likely be rescheduled for 2018 with a process beginning in January and bond issuance sometime in April. This deferred schedule will allow the Board to get better numbers and budgets for the proposed projects on the list. The list of projects and expenses will continue to be reviewed until then.
Meetings to Note & Commissioner Concerns
Board Chair Sivertson asked if it would be possible to respond to questions raised during Public Comment related to the newspaper article about a “Pictometry Machine,” questions about poverty in Cook County, and facility cost estimates.
- The County is not purchasing a “pictometry machine.” The County is contracting to have the pictometry database updated. This will be the third update of GIS and map data – the first in six years. Having accurate map and GIS data is critical for many services that the County provides impacting nearly every department. Having accurate data reduces costly fieldwork and provides more accurate results. This year, the County will be partnering with USFS, Grand Portage, the City of Grand Marais, MN DNR and others to reduce the overall cost to the County. Map functions on the County website are some of the most accessed pages the County has and that data is all driven by this service.
- A statement made during a 2016 Public Health & Human Services Meeting, indicated there were 2,650 people who used SNAP food assistance in the County in a 12-month period has been misquoted as half of the County is living in poverty. The number 2,650 is somewhat inaccurate in that it is a total of the twelve monthly unique beneficiaries. It is more accurate to say that in any given month in Cook County, there are more than 200 people who are participating in the SNAP food benefit program. Regardless of the specific numbers, it is sad and unfortunate that people in our community do not have enough food daily.
- A comment was made about the $845,000 palace planned to replace the Highway facility in Hovland. It was suggested that this was entirely too much for a “garage.” Having quality facilities is essential to provided good service. The current Hovland garage is beyond repair and very nearly a workplace hazard. The budget estimate of $845,000 includes necessary foundation work, the building and other site improvements. The budget for the site and building will be completed before bonds are issued.
Full details of Board Meetings are available through video footage, Agendas and Minutes at www.co.cook.mn.us. County Board Meetings are open to the public.