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April 9 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Apr 11, 2019 08:59AM ● By Editor

Media Release from Cook County MN - April 11, 2019

April 9, 2019 – Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, April 9 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Additions/Adjustments to the Agenda

  • No additions or adjustments to the agenda.

Public Comment Period

  • There were no public comments made.

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

A.  Claims

B. Board Minutes

C. Resolution Authorizing KOOTASCA Community Action, Inc. with Administration of Program Funds

D. Invitation to bid for CSAH 18 Rehabilitation Project


Highway Department

Krysten Foster, Highway Engineer, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Transportation Funding Resolution - Requesting Board approval to pass and approve the resolution in support of adequate and sustainable State transportation funding. The Association of Minnesota Counties is requesting that all counties consider this resolution passed by the AMC Board last month. Funding options include sales tax from sales of auto parts and a proposal for a 20-cent gas tax increase. Currently, funding comes from the sales tax from auto parts. The resolution does not specify which funding option Cook County supports, it is merely a resolution seeking adequate funding from Minnesota’s Highway Tax Distribution Fund. The Minnesota Highway Tax Distribution Fund provides additional stable funds for counties and cities with a population of 5,000 or more. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 17 Paving Plan. Requesting Board to authorize County Administrator to sign a contract with MSA Professional Services, Inc. for the Mineral Center Road (CSAH17) paving project plans and specifications. The project meets the contracting threshold requiring engineered plans, specification, and competitive bidding to pave the Mineral Center Road segment of CSAH 17 this season. The cost of paving Mineral Center Road was included in the 2018 Bond Issue. $28,390 will come from bond funds for highway projects. Motion was made and carried unanimously.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) District One and Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) Presentation

John McDonald, District One MNDOT State Aid Engineer, Russell Habermann, ARDC, and Morrie Luke, MNDOT Assistant District Traffic Engineer, presented the Northeast Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership (NEMNATP) Presentation:

  • The Board was given the following updates: In 2019, MNDOT will begin rumble strip construction on the shoulders only. The rumble strips will be standard rumbles and will be more bike friendly. Shoulders less than eight feet will have rumble strips that are smaller. This corresponds to the statewide and district policy by MNDOT. No rumble strips will be added to Lutsen as the shoulders are too narrow. Construction will begin the middle of August and is anticipated to extend through the second week of September. The project will start in Two Harbors. Rumble strips in the Grand Portage area will occur in 2021. The speed limit for Highway 61 will be raised to 60; however, this change and the new speed limit signs will not be put in place for a while. A media release will be sent out when that change is official. ARDC has been working with the Grand Marais community to create a Pedestrian Plan. The Plan will be created under a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield Center for Prevention. ARDC is working with the County Highway Department and other stakeholders on this plan. MNDOT updates can be accessed online at or .

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

  • Budget transfer from Dept 200 to Dept 224. Requesting Board approval to transfer Sheriff’s 2019 $60,000 capital budget from Dept 200 to the ARMER, Dept 224. The purpose of the $60,000 budgeted for 2019 is to start accumulating funds for three years until all ARMER radios can be replaced. Moving this item to the existing ARMER Dept better fits the purpose of the funds and avoids confusion. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • Amend Credit Card Policy. The current policy authorizes 19 credit cards for County staff use. Requesting Board approval to add an additional two cards, one for the Administrator’s Office and one for the Commissioners, increasing the number of credit cards to 21. Increasing the number of cards helps to ensure that cards are available when needed. The responsibility for obtaining the required documentation for credit cards rests largely with the Department Head. There is no cost incurred for adding additional cards. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • Request to carry over 2018 budgeted funds to 2019. The Sheriff budgeted $60,000 for 2018 capital expenses with only $48,017 spent. Requesting Board approval to carry over the unexpected net amount of $11,983 to the 2019 budget. The funds would appear as Board assigned funds in the 2018 budget and would be spent in 2019. Motion was made and carried unanimously.


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

  • Job posting for Community Center Assistant. The Community Center/Extension Director needs a part time person to help in taking care of the day-to-day operations of the Community Center.Over the years, staff has been reduced from two full-time equivalent employees to one. The Community Center is home and host to Extension programs, community classes, youth programs, and weekend events including weddings and curling tournaments. The current Director works considerable overtime to maintain both Extension related and community center programs. Not hiring a part-time staff member would result in reduced services at the Community Center. Part-time positions do not include Health Insurance benefits. Board approval to post for a parttime assistant at the Community Center was requested. Motion made and carried unanimously.
  • Resolution creating a Complete Count Committee for Census 2020. Requesting Board adopt the resolution creating a Complete Count Committee for Census 2020 and appoint Valerie Marasco as Chair/Liaison to the Committee to assist in the process. Accurate census information is critical to planning for future growth, development and social needs of Cook County. The purpose of creating the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee is for the planning and conducting local initiatives and promotional activities to increase community participation in the 2020 Census. A Committee Chairperson and Committee members shall be appointed to serve for a term to continue through June 2020. Motion was made and carried unanimously.

Visit Cook County Presentation

Linda Jurek, Executive Director, David Seaton, Board Chair, and Lily Peterson, Events Coordinator, reported to the Board on the use of the 1% Lodging Tax in Cook County:

  • Visit Cook County reported that one of the issues they face is that single-day events are not conducive. Marketing for single-day events is inefficient and not resulting in a good cost/benefit ratio. Most tourists won’t come for just single-day events. Legislation states that the 1% Lodging Tax must be used to support tourism in Cook County and support Visit Cook County but does not specifically state that it must be used for marketing. As a result, Visit Cook County has come up with some ideas for the use of the 1% Lodging Tax. These include sub-branding within marketing materials and building out the slow seasons from April pushing into May and mid-November until the first significant snow fall. Visit Cook County has also modified their mission statement, adding the word sustainable to the mission as Visit Cook County wants to invest in the community long-term in a way that is sustainable to the community. Visit Cook County’s purpose is not only for the people that come here, but the people that live here. A resolution is required for the County Board to approve the budget of the 1% Lodging Tax, which is the only part Cook County is responsible for. Request for the Board to approve the budget event allocation of $435,410 was made. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 

Employee Concerns/Commissioner Concerns

  • Letter to United States Forest Service (USFS). The Thye-Blatnik Act provides payments in lieu-of-taxes (PILT) to our counties based on the land contained therein that is managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). These payments, based on a formula determined by the USFS, are an invaluable resource for the hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans whose local governments depend on them to provide essential services. Last year, Cook County received $1,891,350.00 dollars in Thye-Blatnik (PILT) payments from the USFS, dollars that go to law enforcement, infrastructure, and other critical programs. This funding is an irreplaceable portion of our County’s budget. Recently, the area of the Superior National Forest within Cook County was assessed by USFS professionals in preparation for a new formulation of annul Thye-Blatnik payments. The revised payments were supposed to be released in September of 2018; however, have not yet been made public. Motion made and carried to send a letter to the USFS regarding this matter.
  • Commissioners Storlie, Deschampe, Bursheim and Mills all attended the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Leadership Conference last week.


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

Employee Anniversaries



Years of Service

Daniel Berglund



Steven Butz



Curtis LaBoda



Dusty Nelms

Recorder’s Office


Kirk Oberg



Beverly Wolke



Lynn Wright

Public Health & Human Services


Joseph Zallar

Sheriff’s Office


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.


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


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