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Boreal Community Media

September 11 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Sep 12, 2018 11:29AM ● By Editor

Media Release from Cook County - September 12, 2018

Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, Sept 11 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Public Comment Period 

No public comments made

Consent Agenda

All items on the Consent Agenda were approved. 
A.  Claims
B.  Minutes Aug 14 & 21, 2018
C.  Recommendation for Parks & Trails Commission
D.  Resolution for fire Relief Benefits 
E.  Tower Lease – National Guard  
F.  Bid Awards, Winter Maintenance on SGSDs    


Ground Lease for Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department Upon Land Exchange
County Attorney Molly Hicken requested authorization to execute a Ground Lease to Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department under the conditions outlined in the Land Exchange Lease Agreement, effective as the date of closing. A motion was made and carried.

Claim for Underpaid Payment In lieu of Taxes (PILT)

County Attorney Molly Hicken presented a resolution to authorize entering the class of plaintiffs in the KANE COUNTY v. UNITED STATES federal lawsuit to recover underpayments of PILT monies due to the County. This could potentially bring money into the County at very little risk. Motion was made and carried.

Public Hearing on Classification of Cook County’s Tax Forfeit Land
Braidy Powers, Auditor-Treasurer and Lisa Kerr, Land Commissioner reported regarding Tax Forfeit Land. No members of the public attended the public hearing.  A list of Tax Forfeit Land was provided to the Commissioners. State Statute 282 was quoted on Classification of Tax Forfeit Parcels. An outline of the tax forfeit procedure process and the Department of Natural Resources Review chart was provided to help demonstrate process steps. A motion was requested, and passed, to Classify all Tax Forfeit Parcels on list as Non-Conservation. Motion carried, and next step will be evaluating parcels for potential sale. 

General Fund Second Quarter Budget Review
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, gave a review of revenues and expenses through June 30, 2018 compared to the 2018 Budget, this is the amended budget approved on 8/14/2018.  Motion was made and carried, to approve the 2nd Quarter Budget Review

Investment Report
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, gave a review of the 2017 County Investment Report.  The Cook County investment portfolio is presented in three ways:  by percentage invested with the agents we use, by percentage at various maturity levels, and by percentage in various investment instruments.  The County’s policy defines three objectives, in order of importance:  safety, liquidity and yield.  No motion was needed. 

Administrator Update
County Administrator Jeff Cadwell, received a letter from the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (SMC) regarding our Coroner’s contract as Dr. Stover is leaving employment at SMC and providing six-month notice to terminate the present arrangement.  There will be a meeting soon with both entities to discuss solutions. 

There was also discussion regarding the City of Grand Marais Joint Powers Agreement Providing for Shared Costs of the Cook County YMCA effective Nov 23, 2012. The County is requesting that Article III, Cost Sharing be renegotiated to reflect the current financial obligation of the County and address the actual costs of the operation of the facility. Commissioner Sivertson will serve on the Committee to review this agreement.

Health Insurance & VEBA Renewal
The County Administrator gave an overview of the annual renewal for Blue Cross and Blue Shield – the County’s health insurance provider. The recommendation from the Staff Benefit Committee was to renew the current plan at the new rate for 2019 which reflects a 1% reduction in premium from 2018 rates. A motion was made and carried. 

The annual renewal for Further (formerly Select Account), the County’s voluntary employees' beneficiary association (VEBA) plan. A VEBA is a type of tax-exempt trust used by its members to pay for eligible medical expenses. Motion was made and carried. 

2019 Budget Discussion

The County Administrator requested Commissioner feedback on the District Budget Town Hall process and meeting format. Commissioners all indicated that they felt the meetings were helpful and provided a good opportunity for public discussion. County Auditor – Treasurer Braidy Powers reviewed the current 2019 Budget summary requests and the estimated tax impact of several possible levy options. Mr. Cadwell reviewed the details included in the budget to this point including $130,000 for public health community grants, $15,000 for Arts and Culture Grants, New staff requests and additional capital requests. Commissioner Bursheim made a motion to set the preliminary levy increase not to exceed 5.99 per cent over the 2018 Levy. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Sivertson and the motion passed 5-0. Commissioner Bursheim also made a motion to set the Truth in Taxation meeting for Thursday, Nov 29, at 6 pm, in the Commissioners Room at the Courthouse. 

Letter from International Day of Peace Initiative
Commissioner Storlie read a letter we received from Kathy Sullivan. “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Right at 70”.  Motion was made and carried by resolution in support of Friday, Sept 21, 2018 as ‘A Day of Peace’ which will include a gathering on Saturday, Sept 22, at 12 pm, at Bear Tree Park in Grand Marais. 

Commissioner Concerns
Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk discussed the Soil & Water Conservation District meeting. There was a sub-committee formed to discuss Strategic Planning.

There was discussion about the number of staff required for jail transports. Currently, statute often requires multiple staff members to accompany transports with both male and female inmates, e.g. female prisoner must have female employee accompany on transport. A question was posed as to if cameras in the transport vehicle would suffice this need. This will be investigated, and with Board permission, Commissioner Doo-Kirk will bring it up at the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Commissioner Bursheim attended a Restorative Justice meeting and indicated it was very rewarding, 16 citizens were in attendance at the two-day training session. 

Summary of 2018 District Town Hall Meetings

Noted that not many constituents attended.
District 1 – Commissioner Deschampe, questions: Proposed levy, wages and PILT
District 2 & 3 – Commissioners Bursheim and Sivertson, questions:  YMCA, vacation rentals, wages
District 4 – Commissioner Doo-Kirk, questions:  Lodging tax, YMCA, Levy, wage negotiations
District 5 – Commissioner Storlie, questions:  Union questions, putting information on the website

Administrator Cadwell added there were two common questions throughout all of the Town Hall Meetings:

1) What is the cost benefit of supporting or not supporting the requested department budgets and staffing requests? 
2) What are staff and commissioners doing to advocate on behalf of the Citizens of Cook County?

September Employee Anniversaries:




Mongan, Lindy


Maintenance Department

Watkins, Rowan


Management Information Systems

Rexrode, Melissa


Sheriff’s Office

Eliasen, Pat


Sheriff’s Office

Marasco, Valerie


Emergency Management & Public Information

DeBoer, Andrea


Public Health & Human Services

Ericson, Lori


Public Health & Human Services

Smith, Michael


Land Services - Recycle Center

Schliep, Kelly


Highway Department



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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