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Boreal Community Media

March 12 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Mar 14, 2019 09:18AM ● By Editor

Media Release from Cook County MN - March 14, 2019

Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, March 12 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Additions/Adjustments to the Agenda

  • There were no additions or adjustments to the agenda.

Public Comment Period

  • Mary Somnis, Director of Economic Development Administration (EDA), thanked the Board for all its hard work. She let the Board know that she is planning a Housing Summit within the next few months and invited Board members to attend and be a part of the collaboration.
  • Jim Boyd, Cook County Chamber, thanked the Board and the Assessor’s Office for its work with the reclassification of the seasonal vacation rental market.
  • Mike Larson, co-owner of Cascade Vacation Rentals, commented on the Vacation Rental Ordinance public hearing date. He requested postponement until the Committee could meet to review this proposed ordinance.
  • Arvis Thompson expressed concerns with the Kronos payroll system as outlined in the agenda. Ms. Thompson stated that the numbers didn’t make any sense and she didn’t know why the County isn’t going to continue to use the current system instead of spending money. Ms. Thompson stated that she was also concerned with the information provided in the Hovland project agenda item and concerns regarding the bid and requested a letter of explanation of the bids. She wanted to know what was done and what hasn’t been done. Ms. Thompson would like to know what the County is doing to communicate with the public and when the open public town hall meetings will be taking place.
  • Jan Sivertson, former County Commissioner stated that the Board is present to conduct the job of the County. She expressed support for the Board and County Administrator and thanked Mr. Cadwell for his hard work during these adverse times. Ms. Sivertson shared insight from her experience as a Commissioner on practicing discerning listening rather than focusing on every individual complaint.

Consent Agenda
All items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously: 

A.  Claims
B.  Board Minutes
C. Donation to Veteran Services Office
D. Land Lease – Sawbill Outfitters

Public Hearing – Small Cities Development Program

  • A Public Hearing is required by law to close out the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) housing program grant in Lutsen. Scott Zahorik, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) Housing Services and Assistant Executive Director, stated that the Lutsen area grant for housing improvements has ended. There was some upset by residents that they didn’t meet the criteria for the grant due to the boundary lines set forth, therefore, AEOA will lobby and begin looking for the next grant to be for the Grand Marais area. Mary Somnis, Director of the EDA, agreed with AEOA and is planning a collaboration with different entities to see what can be done for the homeowners in Grand Marais. Motion was made and carried unanimously to close the Lutsen DEED. 


Land Services
Tim Nelson, Land Services Director, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Zoning Ordinance Amendment Process: Section 12.02(A) of the Zoning Ordinance provides that only the County Board, Planning Commission or affected property owners may initiate any amendments relative to the text of the ordinance. The Zoning Ordinance has been reviewed internally and recommended that these minor changes would be best processed through a series of public hearings over the year instead of one single meeting, so that the changes can be reviewed in smaller, more easily discussed, doses instead of the whole document at one time. Requested general authorization to make minor changes throughout the year to the ordinance and hold public hearings for these changes. Motion made and carried unanimously.
  • Vacation Rental Ordinance final draft: The Vacation Rental Committee was set up in 2015, at the direction of the Board. The Committee has met off and on over several years and in late 2018, determined that it was time for the County to move forward in providing some regulatory oversight to vacation rental operations. Recommendation by the Committee to develop a licensing oversight program along with a method of administration and enforcement have been worked on internally and has resulted in a final draft of an ordinance, which is ready for public review and comment. Several vacation rental compliance monitoring companies have been reviewed and negotiations with one of the companies that offers the most comprehensive monitoring package (including a 24/7 hotline for complaints) and would like to pursue an agreement for services that would be completely funded out of the proposed fees collected through the licensing program has been completed. It is important to have a public hearing for the ordinance to gain input from everyone and to answer any questions the public may have. After the public hearing, the ordinance will come back to the Board for final approval or for changes, if necessary. Requested board to approve the posting of public hearing for the Vacation Rental Ordinance for April 10, 2019, at 6 pm.  Motion was made and carried unanimously. 

Auditor Report
Braidy Powers, Auditor/Treasurer, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Contract for Saganaga Parking Lots: Voyageur Canoe Outfitters (Voyageur) has managed the parking lots for the for the last several years. The parking lots are used by anglers, canoeists, outfitters, and resorts for access to the lake and provide some funding for maintenance and improvements to all County landings. Voyageur has agreed to no change in compensation for 2019. Board approval is requested to contract with Voyageur to manage the Saganaga Parking Lots. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • Revolving Loan Request: Mr. Moos's jewelry business has expanded and his existing equipment has worn out. He is requesting a $1,000, 2-year loan for purchase of a vibratory rock polisher and a grinder polisher with collateral consisting of a sandblaster/tumbler and jewelry stock estimated at a value of $21,000. Mr. Moos has had two previous loans from the Revolving Loan Fund and has paid them both back on time. The Revolving Loan Fund Committee has unanimously recommended approval of the loan to Mr. Moos. Motion was made and carried unanimously.


Jeff Cadwell, County Administrator, brought the following items to the Board for discussion:

  • Hovland Public Works Facility Update: A public bid opening was held on Tuesday March 5, 2019. Four bids were submitted with all bids coming in above the budgeted cost. The actual expenditures to date on the project are $88,410.21 for architectural and consulting fees. The apparent low bid for the project fits within the budget left for the capital projects on the capital project list for the 2018A Bond issue. A meeting with the low bidder will be held on Thursday, and a review of alternate plans will be conducted and prepared for Board review on March 26. The bids do not include a septic system, nor does it include the new well that is needed on site. An estimate will be provided for those items and submitted to the Board on March 26.
  • Kronos Payroll Module Purchase and Implementation: Currently the County is using RTVision for timecards, MCIS for payroll and Kronos for Human Resource Management. Communications between the three systems is often complicated, resulting in duplications and manual entry. A committee was established to study the issue and reviewed four possible solutions, narrowing the search down to KRONOS as a supplier that can provide all three services in an integrated platform that is capable of transmitting data to our other accounting and cost accounting programs as required. Most counties have converted from these old systems and now only six small counties, including Cook County, still use the old systems. Annual software costs for Kronos are within the amount of money Cook County currently spends in its budget. The only additional fees would come from the one-time set up fees. These fees have already been adopted into the current budget. It is recommended that Cook County move forward with the payroll portion of Kronos for 2019 and in 2020, move forward with the time and attendance portion for budget purposes. This has been broken down into two different parts to help the budget with the one-time costs of converting to Kronos. It is estimated that Cook County will save $10,000 annually after the conversion. Board approval is requested to cancel MCIS for 2020 and convert to Kronos. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
Employee Concerns/Commissioner Concerns
  • Commissioner Storlie commented that she met with a Board Member from Boreal Community Media regarding the updating done on the Boreal website and encouraged the Board to go to the three township annual meetings, which she will also attend.
  • Commissioner Doo-Kirk attended the One Watershed meeting and will be attending the next meeting.
  • Commissioner Deschampe stated the Joint Highways Committee met and it went well. Re-negotiation will be discussed with Lake County to renew the contract for the shared Highway Engineer as it expires at the end of this year.


  • Lodging Tax Summary as of 12/31/2018
  • North Shore Music Association Letter

The Board acknowledged the service of the following employees who celebrate work anniversaries in the month of March.

Employee Anniversaries

Jonathan Baumann, Sheriff’s Office         4 years

Cortnee Bernier, Auditor/Treasurer         25 years

Warren Hagen, Highway                           13 years

Judy Hill, Administration                           3 years

William Lane, Land Services                      13 years

Theresa Oberg, Soil & Water                    9 years

Randy Roberts, Highway                           1 year

Rena Rogers, MIS                                       5 years

Kimberly Shepard, Court Administration 22 years

Dawn Wagner, Sheriff                               2 years

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

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


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