Most recently approved County Commission Minutes

 

 

Mercer County Commission
Minutes
October 15, 2014

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM CT by Chairman Murray, also present was Commissioner Scheurer, Commissioner Entze, Commissioner Bitterman, Commissioner Tveit, State’s Attorney Binder and Auditor Brost. 

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, seconded by Commissioner Tveit to table the 11:30 AM discussion. On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried. Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to approve the agenda as corrected. On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried. 

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Scheurer to approve the minutes of the October 1st commission meeting.  On roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Sheriff Danzeisen discussed with the board the purchase of a tire machine and balancer in the amount of $8,043.  Danzeisen explained that he has the funds in his Sheriff’s Grant account and Auditor Brost confirmed there was $57,159.47 cash on hand for that account.  Commissioner Tveit asked Danzeisen to communicate with the board when purchasing big ticket items, even if he has the funds to pay for it.  Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, seconded by Commissioner Bitterman to approve the payments of bills as follows, including the tire machine and balancer:  Alco Stores, Inc., $39.54; American Welding & Gas Inc., $171.78; Beulah Drug, $9.18; BHG, Inc., $3,257.18; Jessica J. Binder, $480.64; Jamie Bradley, $423.00; Bronson’s Supervalu, $10,086.06; Todd Bruce, $35.00; Café Dumond, $42.50; David D. Chadwick, $237.00; Charm-Tex, Inc., $85.56; James Connolly, $68.16; Corner Express of Center L.L.C., $56.14; Lonnie Crews, $14.00; Ronald Crowley, $420.42; Custer Health District, $5,094.27; D & E Supply Co. Inc., $313.80; Dakota Central Social Services, $64,883.29; Dennis Drewes Inc., $278,517.15; Direct Med, $319.28; BW Fargo Doublewood Inn, $255.00; DS Solutions Inc., $150.00; eCivis Inc., $7,600.00; Wayne Entze, $237.44; Farmers Union Oil Co., $23,179.72; Wright Express FSC, $2,827.51; Ryan Flemmer, $3.92; Galls/Quartermaster, $162.95; Hazen Drug, $72.16; Hazen Hardware Inc., $41.58; Hazen Rural Fire District, $124.12; Hazen Star, $18.00; Hedahl’s Inc., $5.49; Hiway Express, $46.32; Industrial Builders, Inc., $277,603.74; Information Technology Department, $932.82; J & L Automotive LLC, $244.00; J & M Hardware, Inc., $337.87; Van Johnson, $5,610.00; Kermit Schaefer Consulting, $1,500.00; Frances Kessler, $87.92; Krause Supervalu, $311.63; Shannon Liebold, $203.00; Maas Electric, Inc., $1,695.00; Mac’s Inc., $73.87; Menards, $1,056.42; Mercer County Shop, $3,554.70; Midcontinent Communications, $66.23; Napa, $555.24; NDAE4-HYW, $180.00; NDACo Resources Group, $387.72; ND Association of Counties, $1,452.07; ND Attorney General, $1,395.00; NDEAFCS Treasurer, Lori Scharmer, $115.00; ND State Radio Communications, $720.00; ND Youth Correctional Center, $2,416.50; Neuberger Oil Company, $33,187.91; Northeast Wisconsin, $350.00; Northern Plains Equipment Co. Inc., $107.20; Penguin Management, Inc., $330.00; Perreault Construction Inc., $870.00; PharmChem, Inc., $500.00; RDO Equipment Co., $185.17; Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, $86.00; Carmen Reed, $630.56; Reliance Telephone Systems, Inc., $500.00; Roughrider Electric Cooperative, Inc., $1,007.23; Sakakawea Hazen Clinic, $223.00; Chad Sandberg, $5.00; Severin, Ringsak, & Morrow, $3,350.00; Southwest Water Authority, $43.77; Saint Alexius Medical Center, $458.25; Star Business Forms, $342.35; Stroup Insurance Inc., $50.00; T & G Grocery & Grill, $225.25; Tower Communications Inc., $555.00; Uniform Center, $480.96; Venture Marketing, $29.95; Verizon Wireless, $34.34; Christopher Waller, $418.32; Warne Chemical and Equipment Co., $15.54; Thomson Reuters, $269.84; West River Telecommunications, $4,186.75; 24/7 Contracting Services LLC, $24,133.50; City of Beulah, $68.77; City of Stanton, $3,756.59; Alco Stores, Inc., $17.67; AmeriPride Services Inc., $65.16; Farmers Union Oil Co., $1,677.00; Hazen Hardware Inc., $40.02; Hazen Motor Co., $101.63; Hiway Express, $193.67; Interstate All Battery Center, $218.00; J & R Vacuum & Sewing Inc., $83.94; Napa, $129.59; Codi Soland, $695.00; Midcontinent Communications, $119.96; Napa, $538.44; Beulah Lumber Co., $20.97; J & M Hardware, Inc., $183.62; OK Automotive WD, $8,148.02.  Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The board held the second reading of Policy 606 Inclement Weather.  The policy reads as follows: “606(A) NO TRAVEL ADVISORY   It is dangerous to residents of the County to be out traveling on highways when the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department has advised a no travel advisory. It is dangerous for personnel of Mercer County to be called out to rescue people who get stranded when they are traveling in no travel advisory conditions. As such, it is the resolution of the Mercer County Commission that when the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department has issued a no travel advisory no member of the Mercer County Highway Department will clear any county roads or highways or go out to rescue stranded drivers until the advisory has lifted by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. This resolution shall not have any effect upon any emergencies and the Mercer County Highway Department will continue to respond to medical emergencies as they arise. Be it further resolved that if the Mercer County Highway Department does go out and rescue drivers who have been traveling during no travel advisories, that then and in that event, the Mercer County Highway Department shall charge all such drivers the regular County rate of charge for personnel and equipment whether they are rescued from public roads or from private roads. If an employee of Mercer County is stranded on a County or private road and needs the assistance of the Mercer County Highway Department, no charge or fee shall be applied to that employee.

606(B) EMPLOYEE INCLEMENT WEATHER PROCEDURES

Inclement weather stresses many of the day-to-day services that are taken for granted. During severe weather, power may fail, roads may become impassible or extremely hazardous, and normal emergency services may be tasked to deal with large-scale emergencies which divert them from their normal duties. County employees attempting to report to or from work may become involved in an accident and/or incident which not only could endanger their lives, but may also delay the prompt recovery of the County from the severe weather conditions.

This policy addresses procedures and policies to be used during adverse weather conditions, which may preclude the safe arrival and/or departure of county employees. Safety is the primary objective in the implementation of these procedures.

Authority: The authority to close and/or issue a reporting delay rests with the Mercer County Commissioner Chairman and the Sheriff, or their designee. The Mercer County Highway Department Superintendent may assist the Chairman and Sheriff in the determination of a closure/delay.

Procedures:

Prior to the workday beginning: The Chairman and Sheriff will determine the advisability of travel on county roads and/or highways. If travel is found to be hazardous, the Sheriff will contact the Mercer County Auditor’s Office, who shall contact Department Heads. Thereafter, Department Heads shall notify employees of the closure.

Delayed reporting: Delayed reporting will be used when, in the opinion of the Chairman and Sheriff, conditions will decrease in the severity and recovery operations will have progressed to the point that travel, while not ideal, would be safe if travelers use caution, defensive driving techniques (e.g. reduced speed, increasing the interval between cars, etc.). Delayed reporting times should allow for clearing conditions 1.5 hours prior to arrival at county offices; this will allow employees a 1.5 hour period to travel to work. For example, if conditions are predicted to improve by 10:30 a.m., the delayed reporting time will be approximately 12:00 p.m.

After the workday begins (early closure): If the Chairman and the Sheriff determine that the weather conditions may degrade to a point that travel will not be advisable for the duration of the workday, the Sheriff will notify the Mercer County Auditor’s Office of such determination. The Auditor’s Office will notify Department Heads, who shall notify employees.

Compensation. Employees shall be compensated in like manner to that of holiday pay as described in Section 304 of this Manual, and in no event shall an employee be assessed a penalty or reduction in regular wages for closures of County services in the case of severe weather.

Overtime. Overtime compensation will continue to be paid in accordance with County pay policies.

Personnel.

All personnel, with the exception of pre-designated “essential” personnel, are subject to closure/delay reporting/early closure notifications.

Essential personnel. Essential personnel include any personnel designated as such by a County Department Head. Normally, essential personnel include those employees of departments which characteristically require a county employee presence at all times to maintain essential systems, operations and/or duties (e.g. Sheriff’s Department), or personnel essential to recovery operations during the current severe weather conditions (e.g. Highway Department). County personnel not previously designated as “essential” may be designated as such at any time (including during severe weather) if essential services and/or duties performed by that employee directly affect the recovery or continuation of essential services of county infrastructure.

Responsibilities:

Department Heads. Department Heads are responsible for ensuring that employees under their supervision understand this policy. This document should be viewed as a safety procedure that minimizes county employee exposure to potential loss of life or injury. The safety of all county employees is important and designation as an essential employee does not intimate that the employee’s safety is any less important than those designated as non-essential. This policy, as with most emergency procedures, strives to minimize the exposure to risk to the maximum extent possible, however, some essential county services must be maintained, and therefore some personnel will be asked to report to their duty locations to provide these services. Exceptions to these policies will occur and are addressed within this policy.

Designating personnel: Department heads will designate essential personnel using the guidelines above. Department heads will ensure that all employees are aware of their designations as essential or non-essential.

Essential personnel unable to report. Department heads must be aware that even though an employee is designated as essential that prevailing conditions may not allow that employee to report to work on time. Supervisors may have to extend shifts, substitute more centrally located personnel, or in extreme cases, contact the Sheriff to retrieve personnel unable to report to work in their private conveyance. Upon receipt of a closing or delay, off-duty essential personnel will contact their immediate supervisor or department head to confirm their ability to report to work. Those who cannot make their scheduled shift/duty hours due to unsafe conditions will not be assessed any penalty and will not be assessed sick and/or vacation time. Employees who cannot make their scheduled shift/duty hours due to unsafe conditions in accordance with this policy shall be paid in like manner to that of holiday pay as described in Section 305 of this Manual.

Retrieving essential personnel. Supervisory personnel who determine that identified essential functions will not be met due to lack of manpower as a result of severe weather may need to consider contacting the Sheriff to retrieve personnel necessary for continued essential operations from their homes. The Sheriff may coordinate with any necessary services to assist in the retrieval of essential personnel.”

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to acknowledge and approve Policy 606(A) No Travel Advisory and 606(B) Employee Inclement Weather Procedures.  Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to approve the September Sheriff’s Fees in the amount of $21,647.00.  Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Bitterman to approve the Juvenile Detention Contract for June 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.  Upon roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The board reviewed the NDSU Extension Highlights.  No further action was taken.

The board reviewed the Landfill’s monthly tonnage report.  The report reads as follows:  Trees and Wood, 49.03 ton; Steel, 10.65 ton; Household, 650.62 ton; Inert, 493.49 ton; Tires, 31; Whiteware, 49; Large Animals, 1; Asbestos, 24; Weighed 3 Trucks.

The board discussed the Designated Health Provider forms and stated all were received except for one from Wes Klein, who holds a seat on the Planning & Zoning board.  State’s Attorney Binder stated appointments could be subject to termination.  Klein is disputing the fact that a board member is considered a county employee.  Commissioner Scheurer stated Klein has been a board member for a long time and does a good job.  Scheurer feels the board should bring him in and talk to him before they vacate his seat.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Tveit to direct State’s Attorney Binder to contact Wes Klein and let him know he has been added to the November 5th agenda at 9:50 AM.  Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Gary Emter, Land Use Administrator, presented the board with two zoning cases.  Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Scheurer to approve Temporary Use Permit #449 to Badlands Aggregate, Inc. for a gravel pit in SE ¼ Section 36 T147N R90W with work limited to daylight hours.  The area disturbed under this temporary use permit must be reclaimed by the applicant and must be approved and released by the County Road Superintendent.  The haul road must be approved and released by the County Road Superintendent if it is a county maintained road and the permit holder must control weeds in an acceptable manner during the time this permit is in effect.  The permit expires on December 31, 2015.  Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Bitterman to approve zoning case #14-10-01 an application for zoning exemption for Dale Heid for electrical services for agricultural use within the NW ¼ Section 28 T144N R89W.  This does not allow for residential building used for non-agricultural purposes, but only for agricultural buildings and agricultural uses.  Upon roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Dan Green discussed with the board a quarter-mile road in Mercer County that leads to his residence in Oliver County.  Green stated that Oliver County came in and built the half-mile that was in their county and was wondering if Mercer County would be able to do the same.  Commissioner Tveit stated that after the initial half-mile it appears to be just a trail and is not sure that would be considered an existing road.  Green questioned if it was just a trail why the ditches were cut.  Commissioner Tveit asked Green what his alternate route was and Green responded there isn’t one so he has no choice but to build this quarter-mile stretch.  Commissioner Tveit stated under non-farm residence he didn’t think the county had to build his road.  State’s Attorney Binder stated the board has the discretion to improve section lines as they see fit.  Green stated he had called one commissioner back in March and has done exactly what he was told to do by that commissioner.  Binder added that roads are subject to the discretion of the entire board, not just one commissioner.  Binder asked Green which commissioner told him the county would build his road and Green responded Frank Bitterman.  Binder reminded Bitterman he cannot act alone as a commissioner, but needed to work with the board.  Chairman Murray stated the county has not built non-farm roads in the past.  Commissioner Tveit asked if the county has improved roads at their expense.  State’s Attorney Binder answered no.  Commissioner Entze stated in the past the county has given a cost estimate to the landowner to provide the work.  Green asked the board if he can hire a contractor.  State’s Attorney Binder stated he could with the Road Superintendent’s approval.  Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to follow protocol and have Road Superintendent Miller furnish an estimate to Green and do the project as time permits; otherwise, if Green chooses to go with a private contractor he can do so at his expense.  Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The board recessed at 10:05 AM.

The board reconvened at 10:14 AM.

Steve Mamer, Interstate Engineering, discussed the box culvert to be put in place on County 14.  Mamer stated Industrial Builders provided an estimate for $96,900, but the county would be responsible for providing a crane for an additional expense.  Mamer stated Road Superintendent Miller sought an estimate from 24/7 Contracting Services and received an estimate for $92,838 and they provided the crane for the county.  The county would still be responsible for the riprap, borrow dirt, backfill, and road base.  24/7 Contracting Services would be able to begin work on November 1.  Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Tveit to accept 24/7 Contracting Services construction proposal in the amount of $92,838.00.  Upon roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Mamer stated during the construction process on County 25 the third mile has been opened up by the Ron Gunsch residence and the water is running creating a mess.  Mamer stated he was going to talk to Gunsch about a stock damn.  Mamer reported on 17th Street SW the low water crossing by the Casey Voigt residence, Coyote Creek is willing to improve the road to redirect the curve and make it not as sharp.  A 14’ x 5’ box culvert would be placed in there at Coyote Creek’s expense, but they need board approval to improve the road and also an easement from Voigts.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to have Mamer work with Miller and Coyote Creek to improve the road at Coyote Creek’s expense.  Commissioner Tveit stated he would like to see all the easements signed up front before projects start.  Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Mamer stated the agreement between Mercer County and Coyote Creek for County 25 has been updated to state the project shall not exceed the project total of $1,825,227.55, instead of $1,500,000.00.  Mamer added Donn Steffen would get an amended agreement to the board.  Mamer added that the agreement also states only County 25 and did not include 17th Street SW, which is also part of the project, so there would need to be an amendment to the agreement to include that street as well.

Mamer reported on the bridge beams located on County 18 that are not being used in the county.  Mamer stated the county has used what they could out of them, and the City of Beulah approached him about getting them from the county to use for their walking bridge.  Commissioner Tveit asked Mamer to relay the message to the City Engineer, Loren Daede, to make a reasonable offer, but they would have to take the entire pile.

The board reviewed the outstanding road accounts.  Miller commented there was a commercial ag permit issued and being utilized, but the permit has not been paid for.  No further action was taken.

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Scheurer to approve Utility Occupancy Application and Permits #1514 through #1526.  Permit #1514 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 31 T143N R88W. Permit #1515 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Sections 11 & 12 T143N R88W.  Permit #1516 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 11 T143N R88W.  Permit #1517 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 14 T1425N R89W.  Permit #1518 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Sections 14 & 23 T143N R88W.  Permit #1519 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 23 T142N R89W. Permit #1520 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Sections 5 & 8 T142N R88W. Permit #1521 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 26 T142N R90W.  Permit #1522 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 35 T142N R90W.  Permit #1523 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Sections 5 & 6 T141N R89W.  Permit #1524 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 2 T141N R89W.  Permit #1525 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Section 11 T141N R89W.  Permit #1526 was issued to the North Dakota State Water Commission for directional drilling 2” PVC potable waterline in Sections 27 & 28 T143N R88W.  Upon roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Entze to approve sick leave donation to a Highway Department employee, with the exception of one employee who wanted to donate 20 hours to allowing the donation of 8 hours. Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Miller reviewed the Hay Bale Removal policy with the board.  The policy states bales must be removed by November 1 and would like a clear cut policy to avoid upset landowners.  Miller asked if he should be removing the bales or charging the landowners for moving them.  State’s Attorney Binder stated the Highway Department should be taking the bales.  Commissioner Entze feels the landowners should be given a courtesy call.  Miller stated it is tough to know who owns the bales.  State’s Attorney Binder stated the bales are considered abandoned property after November 1. 

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Tveit to set the bid letting for the two 2014 or newer motorgraders on November 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM CT.  Upon roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Miller handed out a sheet of information gathered from other counties who have approach and utility permit fees.  Miller would like to see a fee schedule drawn up for Mercer County.  After discussion, the board decided to add the fee schedule to the next agenda to review what Miller draws up.  No further action was taken.

Commissioner Tveit stated he would like to commend Miller for seeking out the bid from 24/7 Contracting Services because Miller was initially told the contractor was too busy.

Calvin Kessler discussed with the board the upkeep on the Gluecksthal Cemetery.  Kessler stated it is located right along Highway 49 and feels it should look nice, but they cannot get anyone to cut the grass.  State’s Attorney Binder stated the county takes care of abandoned cemeteries and if there is an organization in charge of it they are responsible for the upkeep.  Binder added if the county declares a cemetery abandoned it would be on a list with the State Department of Health.  Auditor Brost stated she would check on it and get back to Kessler.  No further action was taken.

The board recessed at 10:56 AM.

The board reconvened at 11:05 AM.

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Entze to close the public meeting and open the Hearing on Appraisal.  Upon roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Gary Emter, Tax Director, presented the board with the one foreclosed property.  Emter stated the property is located at 307 6th Ave NW,  in the City of Beulah, ND; Lot 28 Block 2 Hintz 2nd Addition.  Emter stated the property is 1983 construction townhome that is vacant.  The water has been shut off since November 2013.  Emter looked at seven comparable sales in the last two years that ranged from $74,000 to $101,000.  Emter felt it was fair to set the appraisal at $74,000.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to close the public hearing and reopen the regular meeting. Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Scheurer to accept the appraisal of $74,000 for Lot 28 Block 2 Hintz 2nd Addition.  Upon roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Jim Albers, Maintenance Engineer, discussed the fiber optic line that needed to be rerouted for the upcoming expansion.  Albers explained the fiber optic line comes from the north, under the parking lot, and around the Law Enforcement Center building.  Albers stated during construction the line would need to be brought in from the south and bored in.  Albers had an estimate from West River Telecommunications in the amount of $7,174.87 and was wondering if the county could get this done this fall yet.  Commissioner Scheurer asked if there was money in the budget for it.  Albers stated there was.  Commissioner Tveit stated he didn’t think the county had any choice but to get it done.  Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Tveit to approve the reroute of the fiber optic line.  Upon roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The board recessed at 11:22 AM.

The board reconvened at 11:46 AM.

Wanda Knutson, Clerk of Courts, discussed with the board her worry of the financial future of the county.  Knutson stated she has worked for the county for 25 years and the process of the budget this year was unbelievable in her eyes.  Commissioner Tveit stated the commissioners spent a lot of time going over each line item within the budget throughout the budget process this year.  Tveit stated department heads came to the board last year to try and close the gap on salaries.  Commissioner Tveit feels the board and the Auditor’s office worked extremely hard on the budget.  The board had asked every department head to cut any unnecessary items out of their budget, not just select department heads and Tveit feels the board should confidently stand with the decisions that were made.  Knutson asked what the financial future of the county looks like.  Commissioner Tveit replied they can only take it one day at a time.  Knutson stated the county has never had a large debt before like they will now with the upcoming expansion.  Chairman Murray stated there was a public hearing held on the budget and no one showed up for it; based on that the board felt they had done a good job.  Treasurer Berger stated at the time of the final budget she wasn’t aware of the numbers so she couldn’t comment on them.  Berger stated her, Knutson, and Recorder Cook received a five percent raise and she looks at is as a slap in the face.  State’s Attorney Binder stated that according to the North Dakota Century Code each department head is responsible for their own budget.  Berger stated she would like to know what counties were used in the comparison to come up with the salaries because she has never been able to ask for what she wanted in the past.  Commissioner Tveit stated Mercer, McLean, Mountrail, McKenzie, and Traill counties were used due to being the closest in population.  Tveit added no one department was singled out by giving advantage to one over the other.  Berger questioned why it went by population instead of the workload.  Commissioner Tveit stated there wasn’t a way to measure the amount of work each county does.  Commissioner Entze stated the concern is the future of Mercer County and they need to stay fiscally responsible because they don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.  Commissioner Scheurer stated he is concerned about some of the salaries but there were also department heads that needed adjustments.  Scheurer stated he would like to see the board take a look at this if possible without raising the budget.  Commissioner Bitterman questioned if the budget could be lowered after it was approved.  State’s Attorney Binder stated she would have to look into it.  Scheurer asked Binder if she could look and see if the board could amend the final budget and rework numbers, but not necessarily increase or decrease the budget.  State’s Attorney Binder stated she would do that just because she was directed by the board, but as a department head she spent a lot of time on her budget and now with the request of a special meeting to change, Binder wondered at what point the budget will be final.  Knutson stated she would suggest more communication throughout the budget process so all department heads are on the same page.  Commissioner Tveit stated he was frustrated at the fact that the board went over each budget for every department and made a decision, now the board is questioning their decisions.  Tveit stated two years ago the auditor came in at a cut rate and nothing was said and the same with the State’s Attorney and nothing was said.  Commissioner Tveit added the figures were in front of them throughout the budget process and that is what the board went by, do they always want to second guess themselves?  Commissioner Bitterman stated based on the other counties, he felt it was fair at the time.  Chairman Murray stated the board did not leave anyone out when they asked department heads to research salaries.  Knutson asked the board if they would consider a larger bump for her next year.  State’s Attorney Binder asked Knutson if she had looked at salary survey on the NDACo website.  Knutson stated she considered herself lucky to receive a five percent increase with the upcoming expansion, she didn’t realize they could shoot for the moon.  Commissioner Tveit stated the board gave a ten percent increase last year because the county was behind in salaries, next year will be as it comes, but today it is affordable.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Bitterman to see if it is possible to go back and review the final budget.  Commissioner Tveit state he is willing to vote with the motion but is disappointed with the commissioners for backing down.  Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.  State’s Attorney Binder stated she would do her best to research if the county can go back and reduce the budget.

There being no further business, on motion duly made and second, the meeting was adjourned at 12:25 PM CDT. The next regular meeting of the commission will be November 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM CT in the courtroom of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.

 

Approved:  Gary Murray, Chairman

Attest:  Shana L. Brost, Auditor

 

 

 

Mercer County Commission
Special Meeting Minutes
November 3, 2014

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM CT by Chairman Murray, also present was Commissioner Scheurer, Commissioner Tveit, Commissioner Entze, Commissioner Bitterman, State’s Attorney Binder, Auditor Brost, Sheriff Danzeisen, Treasurer Berger, Recorder Cook, Wanda Knutson, Kathy Johnson, Jim Albers, Carmen Reed, Ken Miller, Kim Liebold, Shannon Liebold, and Danny Bakken.

Chairman Murray stated the agenda topic was listed as Salary Discussion—Treasurer, Clerk of Court, Recorder, Auditor.  Murray added if he would have had the knowledge he received from State’s Attorney Binder, he would not have had a special meeting because the only time an approved budget can be amended if there are unexpected revenues or appropriations and salaries did not fit into those categories.

Commissioner Tveit stated the board is meeting today for the purpose of salary discussions involving the Treasurer, Clerk of Court, Recorder, and Auditor although he doesn’t believe they can discuss salary without looking at the history and does not believe money will resolve the real reason they are here today.  Commissioner Tveit went on to say in the last 30 days the board has watched a scenario unfold and metathesis within the courthouse that he would have never believed possible.  It is his opinion that the chaos that has taken place since October 1, borders on or in the least has the potential to foster workplace violence.  Tveit added the screaming, slamming doors, and the intimidation tactics are totally unacceptable from anyone, much less an elected official or department head.  Commissioner Tveit stated this type of action will not be tolerated from this day forward during his time on this commission.  Whether a person is elected, appointed, or hired, Tveit stated he believes they have a responsibility for the respect and well-being of all employees, the department heads as well as the harmony and the well-being of the county.  Tveit added they have no authority within a department beyond their own job descriptions.  Commissioner Tveit added life is too short and precious to expect any person to work within such conditions or allow any person or persons to inflict such hostile working conditions on others.   Tveit stated according to the job description of a commissioner the commission in general is to ensure the financial, material, and social health of the county and the working environment within the courthouse is not socially healthy.  Commissioner Tveit stated with that in mind he would ask Treasurer Darbie Berger for her voluntary enrollment in Anger Management Class and or resignation of her current Treasurer position as well as the anticipated forthcoming 2014-2018 position.

Commissioner Scheurer stated at the last regular meeting he asked State’s Attorney Binder to look into whether or not the budget could be amended.  Scheurer stated he feels he got his answer from the North Dakota Century Code and like Chairman Murray stated there are very few instances a budget can be amended, and salary is not one of them.  Scheurer added the salary concern should no longer be discussed, but can be readdressed during the 2016 budget cycle.  Commissioner Scheurer stated they as a board unanimously voted to approve the 2015 Budget and they need to stand behind it.

Commissioner Tveit stated for a peace of mind for those in question of the budget, the Auditor, State’s Attorney, Road Superintendent, and Tax Director all did their homework, made their presentations to the board, and substantiated their needs for severe salary adjustments.  All five commissioners heard the requests, reviewed their data, and unanimously approved their budget requests and only the auditor and her department are being challenged.  Commissioner Tveit stated all other department heads, including Treasurer Berger, Recorder Cook, and Clerk of Court Knutson were pleased with their salary increase until they found out others had received a larger percentage increase.  Despite the erroneous claim of the salary of all four department heads (Treasurer, Recorder, Clerk of Courts, and Auditor) have all been paid the same, history shows up to a 9.4% variation in salaries prior to 2006; and the erroneous claim the Auditor’s office has never had two full time deputies, history shows Auditor’s Retterath, Sailer, and Bohrer all have had two full time deputies.  Commissioner Tveit added that of the five comparable counties in population (McLean, Mercer, Mountrail, Trail, and McKenzie), Mercer County Auditor was the fifth lowest salary and with the adjustment to the salary is the fourth lowest salary, and the Mercer County Recorder, Treasurer, and Clerk of Courts are all placed in the middle, 3rd of five.   When comparing three of the five counties whose Treasurer, Recorder, Clerk of Courts, and Auditor did not hold other duties or mixed jobs the average Treasurer is paid 25% less than the average Auditor, the average Clerk of Courts is paid 22% less than the average Auditor, and the average Recorder is paid 20% less than the average Auditor.

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Scheurer to stand behind the budget decisions made on October 1, 2014.  Upon roll call, Tveit “Aye”, Scheurer “Aye”, Entze “Aye”, Bitterman “Aye”, Murray “Aye”, motion carried unanimously.

There being no further business, on motion duly made and second, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 AM CDT.  The next regular meeting of the commission will be November 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM CT in the courtroom of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.

 

Approved:  Gary Murray, Chairman

Attest:  Shana L. Brost, Auditor