County Board Briefs: Sept. 17 meeting

The Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners conducted the following business at its Sept. 17 meeting. This report was written by Joel Stottrup.
Hardrives bituminous bid
The board approved the bid from Hardrives Inc., Waite Park, of $46,262 to provide bituminous patching. It was the low bid of three submitted bids. The other two bids were Tri-city Paving, Little Falls, for $48,890, and Knife River Corp–North Central, Sauk Rapids, for $49,823.  The county Public Works Department requested the patching on the approach of County Road 124 with Highway 23 and also County Road 22 east of U.S. Highway 169.

Issuance of building, septic permits
The board approved issuing the building and septic permits requested by Wayne Eli. Land Services Director Michele McPherson explained in a memo to the board that permit applications won’t be considered for approval if there are delinquent property taxes, special assessments, penalties, interest or fees due on the parcel to which the application relates.
McPherson noted that the taxes on the Eli property are “not in such a delinquent state as to qualify for a stipulation, order or confession of judgment at this time.” She noted that Eli has indicated a payment plan to bring his taxes current in his request for a building and septic permit.
Eli had been issued an “after the fact” interim use permit to place a second dwelling on a parcel and was now seeking a building and septic permit to bring a mobile home into compliance with the ordinance requirements. McPherson noted that the septic in place “is an imminent public health threat and needs upgrading.”
The three owners of the property, including Wayne Eli, signed a letter dated Sept. 9 that in part states the three intend to pay at least $225 per month until all back taxes are brought up to date, and “whenever able, pay additional amounts towards back taxes.”

Budget meeting
The board set a meeting for 6 p.m. Dec. 3 for the public to give input on the county’s proposed budget and property tax levy for 2014. It will be part of the board’s regular meeting in the Historic Courthouse. Board members have already declared they intend to not increase the 2014 levy over the current one.

Cash balances
Items under the consent agenda that the board approved include a report on 2013 cash balances in August this year. It shows a general fund balance of $7.5 million, road and bridge fund of $3.6 million, community veteran services fund of $4.18 million and capital projects fund of $1.9 million.

Modification of job duties
The board approved a modification of the listed job duties for the 911 communications specialist to reflect that the position no longer requires working with the inmates in the county jail. The position still involves “dealing with emergency situations requiring multitasking while under pressure to perform in a timely manner.” It also “requires dealing with emotionally upset people, mainly via telephone with frequent interruptions,” and requires the specialist to “talk frequently and listen continuously” and work varying shifts including days, nights, weekends and holidays.

Positions eliminated, one added
The board approved recommendations by the management team in the county’s Community and Veterans Services Department to eliminate the following positions: case aide (vacant), child support enforcement aide (vacant) and WIC coordinator position, effective upon the incumbent’s departure.  The board also approved the addition of a social worker position to work in child protection and addition of a child support officer position.  The above position changes will result in cost savings.

Town hall meeting
The board set a biannual town hall meeting for 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Wahkon City Hall.

Lean-management training
The board approved lean-management training for county Administrator Roxy Traxler. The two days of training will take place in Minneapolis and will cost $1,600.

Revised credit card policy
The board approved revising the county’s credit card policy. The final draft of the policy authorizes two credit card accounts. The county administrator is responsible for one and the fiscal supervisor in the Community and Veterans Services Department is responsible for the other. Each account has a credit limit “established in an amount sufficient for typical usage, but not to exceed $10,000.”

Tar kettles
The kettles that the county public works has been using to melt the filler material for pavement cracks have been rendered “useless” because the Minnesota Department of Transportation has changed the type of filler being used, according to Public Works Assistant Engineer Jay Munson. As a result, the Public Works supervisor has negotiated with MnDOT to “gift” two diesel fire kettles to Public Works that will melt the new material. The County Board accepted the gift of the two new tar kettles.

Accepts grant
The board accepted a $10,000 county veterans service office operational enhancement grant. The purpose of the grant is to provide outreach to the county’s veterans and a variety of other veterans services, including helping reintegrate combat veterans into society and reduce homelessness among veterans.

Jail report review
The board received the county jail report for August. The county boarded inmates during that time from the counties of Benton, Stearns and St. Louis and from the Department of Corrections’ release violators and privately paid, helping bring in revenue to date in 2013 of $359,945. The county also received nearly $14,397 in booking fees, close to $340 in miscellaneous recovered fees and nearly $13,042 in pay-to-stay fees for a grand revenue total to date of $387,723. The daily jail population in August varied between 75 and 99 inmates.

Drug task force
Sheriff Brent Lindgren sought and received the board’s authorization to end the county’s participation in the North Central Drug Task Force joints powers agreement. Lindgren indicated that the other members in the agreement – the counties of Kanabec and Aitkin, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Police Department – are also terminating their membership, thus ending the task force.