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Boreal Community Media

August 8 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Aug 10, 2017 02:16PM ● By Editor

August 10, 2017 – Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, Aug 8 Board of Commissioners Meeting

Departmental Budgets Review – Highway & Law Enforcement
The Highway Department budget contains several new revenue and expenditure lines as we incorporate the Greater MN Transportation Sales and Use Tax into daily operations. The proposed budget for 2018 shows and increase of $4.5 million. The increase in the highway budget is in engineering and construction of road improvements. Most of this difference is funded by the new Transportation Tax. The balance of the increase is being funded by changes to the Municipal County State Aid Formulas that are supporting projects within the City of Grand Marais. The proposed 2018 budget includes an allocation of $150,000 for calcium chloride. The primary purpose of calcium chloride is to supplement maintenance and reconstruction of gravel roads, and most people recognize the additional benefit of dust control. Commissioners and Highway staff have been receiving complaints about excessive dust from area roads. Last year, the Board voted unanimously to eliminate the $140,000 expense for calcium chloride as a way to reduce the budget.

Sheriff Pat Eliasen presented the 2018 proposed Law Enforcement budget to the Board of Commissioners. The Law Enforcement budget is largely unchanged from 2017 other than $60,000 in capital needed to purchase and install new mobile dispatch computers (MDCs) in each of the patrol cars. The new equipment is necessary as a part of the upgrade to the new Zuercher system authorized by the Board last year. Law Enforcement is currently training on and will be migrating to the new Zuercher system which encompasses computer-aided dispatch (CAD), mapping, records management, mobile CAD, jail management, civil process, criminal investigations, crime analysis, agency financial and administration information, and more. The system allows for greater interoperability and access to law enforcement data in other Counties across the region as well.

 2017 Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Emergency Management Director Valerie Marasco and Firewise Coordinator Todd Armbruster brought the updated 2017 Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) to the Board for approval. The last CWPP was completed in 2009, but will now be updated every five years. These extensive CWPPs:

  • Identify and prioritize Wildland/Urban Interface areas (including federal and nonfederal lands) for hazardous fuels reduction treatments.
  • Identify which area of the County are at the greatest risk for wildfire, what types of forest fuels can be found, as well as a comprehensive inventory of firefighting resources in each Fire District, and
  • Outline measures for reducing fire danger to structures throughout Cook County at-risk communities.

The completion of a CWPP helps communities tap into national funding resources. To view the final approved CWPP visit the Emergency Management section of

Land Services Capital Equipment Approval
The Board approved a capital equipment purchase request from Land Services of $33,000 for the purchase of a flatbed trailer and a mini excavator to be used for soil testing and parks maintenance. The equipment is needed to facilitate timely processing of septic permits and inspections. Dedicated funds restricted to environmental services will be used for this purchase.

Assessor Abatements
The Board approved a list of Assessor abatements related to tax court settlements, homestead adjustments and error corrections.

North Shore Health Care Foundation Grant Application for YMCA Equipment
Attorney Hicken asked the Board for approval to apply for a North Shore Health Care Foundation grant for exercise equipment and to commit up to $2,000 in matching funds to replace some of the stationary bicycles used for spin classes. The 2018 County YMCA budget includes an allocation for the planned replacement of cardio equipment and other major pieces of equipment. The popularity of the spin classes has caused some of these bikes to fail earlier than anticipated.

Public Health & Human Services Director Vacancy
The Board designated Commissioners Sivertson and Storlie to serve on the Search Committee to fill the vacant Public Health & Human Services (PHHS) Director position. Commissioners Storlie and Sivertson will join PHHS Board M Lilja and LaPointe, along with County Administrator Cadwell in a committee to discuss job search options to fill the vacancy.

Administrator Update
County Administrator Jeff Cadwell provided updates on several issues:

  • Budget process and calendar. Commissioners were asked to identify dates to hold Town Hall budget meetings in their districts. A schedule of public input opportunities will be finalized at the Aug 15 Board Meeting.
  • The Job Classification Review Committee has finished review of submitted requests. A summary of the work of this Committee will be provided to employee negotiating groups.
  • The application deadline for a new County Highway Engineer is Aug 25. The search committee will then meet to review submitted applications.
  • A weekly summary was submitted by Acting Engineer Krysten Foster.
  • Out of almost 10,000 members that belong to the Duluth YMCA Association, County Attorney Molly Hicken was selected as Member of the Year! Molly has been involved in all aspects of the Y, a charter member, program participant, parent of program participants, collaborative partner, donor, program volunteer, fundraiser, and is now serving as the chair of the Healthy Living Committee! She was presented the award at the annual celebration in Duluth.
  • Board Chair Sivertson reviewed a summary of the process and the performance reviews submitted, marking Administrator Cadwell’s second anniversary with Cook County.

Full details of Board Meetings are available through video footage, Agendas and Minutes at County Board Meetings are open to the public.

Contact: Jeff Cadwell, Cook County Administrator, 218-387-3687 or [email protected]


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