The Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners conducted the following business at its Jan. 7, 2014 meeting. The news items were compiled by Joel Stottrup.
Organizing the board
County Administrator Roxy Traxler opened the meeting until the board had chosen a chair and vice chair for the new year. Phil Peterson was re-elected chair, and Roger Tellinghuisen was re-elected as vice chair.
Meeting schedule in 2014
The board approved its meeting schedule for 2014. Regular business meetings will continue to be each first and third Thursday of the month beginning at 9 a.m. (except for the Dec. 2 meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m.), with work sessions immediately following each meeting. Town hall meetings will be April 29 and Sept. 30 at locations yet to be determined. The annual county road and bridge meeting will follow the Feb. 4 regular board meeting and will be in the public works office. The annual board of appeal and equalization meeting will be at 6 p.m. June 16.
County Auditor-Treasurer Phil Thompson opened bids from the Mille Lacs Messenger and ECM Publishers’ Mille Lacs County Times for publishing county information. The board approved the low bids. ECM had the low bid for commissioners’ proceedings and official newspaper; financial statement; and second printing of financial statement.
The Mille Lacs Messenger had the low bid for publishing the delinquent tax list.
Sunset Bay request
The board approved a five-year interim use permit renewal for Appledoorn’s Sunset Bay Resort to have a vacation rental home. County Land Services Director Michele McPherson noted that the county Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval. McPherson also said there had been no complaints regarding the resort’s initial one-year IUP for the vacation home.
The board also approved a five-year IUP for a vacation home for Jay and Gay Sikkink on 100th Street in Onamia Township.
The board approved county Public Works Director Bruce Cochran’s request to cover the expenses to send two of his employees to a workshop in Fargo, N.D., March 18 and 19 at a cost of $638. The cost will cover one room for two nights, plus meals, travel and registration for the attendees – maintenance supervisor Mike Maurer, and the department’s primary sign technician, Gene Rhoda. The workshop will cover current requirements for sign materials and reflectivity, state standard installations and crash-worthy installations.
Cochran also noted that out-of-state travel had been curtailed in the past five years.
Contract for legal work
The board approved a one-year contract with Milaca attorney Ethan Allen to provide legal services during 2014 for Child in Need of Protective Services, Permanency and Termination of Parental Rights at a rate of $2,000 per month. The services will be to represent parents unable to afford counsel in these cases.
The board, near the end of its meeting, went into a 12-minute closed session, barring the media and the public from attending. The stated basis was that the board would be discussing a matter involving pending litigation.
At the end of the closed session, the board reopened the regular meeting and passed a motion to give the county attorney’s office the authority to file “lis pendens” on the Sher property (in northern Mille Lacs County) on behalf of the county. Lis pendens is Latin for suit pending and is a written notice that a lawsuit has been filed. The lis pendens action has to do with the county planning to appeal a move by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to place land into trust. (See separate story on the action.)
Under the consent agenda, the County Board:
• Reappointed Dr. Quinn Strobl as the county medical examiner.
• Appointed Steve Johnson and Ross Habeck to each serve a three-year term on the planning commission and appointed Kyle Weimann to a three-year term on the county board of adjustment.
• Reappointed Char Kramersmeier to a final three-year term on the East Central Regional Library Board.
• Approved executing a contract with Kanabec County for Statewide Health Improvement Program purposes. Kanabec will be the host for a five-county SHIP partnership. The other three counties besides Mille Lacs and Kanabec are Pine, Chisago and Isanti. The partnership will be using a health educator funded by a $150,000 Minnesota Department of Health grant to promote healthy practices and address health disparities through community engagement, local decision-making and evidence-based strategies.
• Established minimum salaries commencing 2015 for the county attorney at $97,864 per year or $47.05 per hour, the county auditor treasurer at $62,982.40 per year or $30.28 per hour, and county sheriff at $81,016 per year or $38.95 per hour.
• Authorized executing a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Union representing the non-licensed essential employees at the county jail. The two-year agreement is through Dec. 31, 2015. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the employees will be placed on the lowest step of the uniform pay scale for their classification that ensures a 2 percent wage increase. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the employees shall receive a 2 percent general adjustment. A step increase shall be granted on the 13th payroll for those who have completed their probation period in their current position by June 1, 2015.
• Approved a Title IV-D cooperative agreement for services provided between the county’s Community and Veteran Services, sheriff’s office and attorney’s office in child support enforcement.
• Submitted information regarding an IUP request from John Klein to have a fish house park, seasonal storage and general development of an island. Klein owns Doe Island off the east shore of Mille Lacs Lake near Mille Lacs Parkway/Appledoorn’s Resort in Section 16 of East Side Township.
• Authorized the county engineer to do advance work to replace a culvert on CSAH 7 about 1,500 feet south of Highway 95 this summer.
• Approved a request by WSB & Associates to amend their contract with the county to compensate WSB for the extra work it did when the center pier had to be redesigned for the new CSAH 12 bridge last year. County Public Works Director Cochran said that WSB earned the extra $8,000 it was requesting by providing a timely design change and negotiating a smaller requested amount than the $12,000 it initially sought. Unforeseen soil conditions warranted the new pier design.
• Approved a request by Cochran to attend the Minnesota County Engineer’s Association conference in January at Cragun’s Resort northwest of Brainerd at a cost of $768 to cover lodging, meals and conference registration.
• Approved purchasing computer monitor privacy filters through a state bid contract for staff in Community and Veterans Services at a cost not to exceed just over $6,060. The IRS requires that computers with access to programs containing private tax data have privacy screens so people walking by can’t view the data.
• Approved increases for reimbursing for funerals at a rate of $1,000 for professional services, $455 for casket, and $646 for concrete vault for a total of $2,101. The price of caskets for children or caskets that are oversized can be negotiated with the county. Cremations will be reimbursed at a flat rate of $1,700. Grave openings will be reimbursed at actual cost. Transportation will be reimbursed at $1.25 per loaded mile outside Mille Lacs County and within the state. The county provides lots at the county cemetery in Milo Township.