Mercer County Commission
December 21, 2016
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM CT by Chairman Scheurer, also present was Commissioner Murray, Commissioner Gunsch, Commissioner Entze, Commissioner Berger, State’s Attorney Binder and Auditor Brost.
Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Murray to approve the agenda with additions. All members voted “Aye”, motion carried.
The board reviewed the minutes from the December 13th meeting. Commissioner Entze requested the word pilot be changed to flight instructor. Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Entze to approve the minutes with the corrections for the December 13th meeting. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Berger, “Nay”, Murray, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Motion made by Commissioner Murray, second by Commissioner Gunsch to approve the bills as follows: Aecom, $30054.92: American Welding, $120.25; Bauer Built, $1457.76; Beulah Chamber of Commerce, $55.00 Beulah Lumber, $99.25: Butler Machinery, $5.12; Café Dummond, $94.27 Corner Express, $43.68; Custer District Health, $4991.92; D & E Supply, $860.60; Dakota Staffing, $417.73; Direct Med, $262.70; Wayne Entze, $259.20; FUO Beulah, $1252.57; FUO Hazen, $47.50; Wex, $3318.33; Hazen Hardware Hank, $42.96; Hazen Star, $103.00; Implementation Specialists, $1113.75; Interstate All Battery, $39.98; J & L Automotive, $452.25; J & M Hardware, $20.99; KLJ, $6800.00’; Dena Kemmet, $60.00; Language Line Services, $90.00; Mac’s, $34.99; Midwest Doors, $212.80; Kurt Milbrandt, $51.95; Mobile Binders, $1487.23 Gary Murray, $148.82; Nancy’s Designs, $18.13; Napa, $1125.87; ND Attorney General, $1170.00; ND One Call, $9.00; ND Surplus Property, $27.00; Nelson International, $1783.58; Neuberger Oil, $12584.15; OK Automotive, $583.83; Pharmchem, $1150.00; Premier Enterprises, $468.49; Roughrider Electric, $916.94; Duane Scheurer, $274.10; Rona Schutt, $43.52; Shopko, $151.13; Site 5, $71.40; SBM, $699.98; SW Water, $42.76; Staples Credit Plan, $2028.06; State Water Commission, $320.00; The Hub, $26.30; Traver Industrial,$227.40; Verizon Wireless, $670.77; Thomson Reuters, $442.00; West Shore Services, $436.00; Westlie Motor Company, $40000.00. On roll call vote; Murray, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Berger, “Nay”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
The board reviewed the NDSU Extension Highlights. No further action was taken.
Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Murray to hire Rath and Mehrer, P.C. for the county’s yearly audit. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
State’s Attorney Binder discussed the Stream Protection Rule with the board. Binder stated she emailed the OMB and requested a meeting today to give input but the OMB stated the rule might drop regardless. State’s Attorney Binder asked the OMB if they could assure her the rule wouldn’t drop until the county was able to give input since they have been drafting the rule for six (6) years and had such a small window for public comment. Since the rule dropped anyway, Binder stated she wasn’t sure if there is any juncture for the county to step in now, and the county may need to let it play out and if need be the county can do an affidavit like they did before with the Clean Air Act. Commissioner Gunsch stated the county should support them as much as they can and keep in touch with what is going on. State’s Attorney Binder stated she wasn’t sure if the OMB has any involvement with it at all anymore. No further action was taken.
Auditor Brost stated Clerk of Court, Wanda Knutson, filled out a grant application to the state for the AVI System and a new copy machine and it is a 75%/25% cost share. Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Murray to approve the grant application in the amount of $15,707.61, with the county being responsible for 25% or $5235.86. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Auditor Brost read the second reading of the proposed changes to Policy 201: Employment Categories. The policy read as follows: “REGULAR FULL-TIME: Employees who are not in a temporary or training status and who are regularly scheduled to work on a full-time basis according to the total number of hours such a schedule would consist of, or no less than thirty hours per week. These employees are eligible for the employer’s full benefit package, subject to terms, conditions, and limitations of each benefit program.
REGULAR PART-TIME: Employees who are not in a temporary or training status and who are regularly scheduled to work less than 30 hours per week. The actual hours may vary from week to week, however no one week period shall be more than 30 hours, unless approved by the immediate supervisor. Regular part-time employees are eligible for a portion of the employer’s benefit package, subject to terms, conditions, and limitations of each benefit program.” Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Murray to approve the proposed changes to Policy 201: Employment Categories. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
The board gave their portfolio updates. Commissioner Gunsch stated the next Policy Committee meeting will be held on January 4th at 1 PM. Commissioner Murray didn’t have anything to report. Chairman Scheurer reported the next Ambulance Board meeting would be held on December 27 in Hazen at 6 PM. Scheurer also reported he attended the LEPC meeting on December 15th and emergency responders were to help the hospital move in February and they also finalized the 2017 exercise. The next LEPC meeting will be held on March 2nd at DGC. Commissioner Entze didn’t have anything to report. Commissioner Berger stated he would like to have one (1) meeting a month in the evening for the convenience of the public at 5 or 6 PM. Commissioner Gunsch asked what they would do with the employees that needed to be there and if they would pay them overtime. Berger stated it is their obligation to be at the meeting. Commissioner Gunsch stated it could get late at night with meetings lasting three (3) to four (4) hours and not sure it would be good. Chairman Scheurer stated in the past the evening meetings have had a poor turnout. Commissioner Murray stated there are so many things going on in the evenings and people are busy. Chairman Scheurer stated they could bring it back for discussion at the next meeting so they had a little more time to think it through. Commissioner Berger asked about videotaping the meetings and stated Contegrity Group stated it would be done. Commissioner Gunsch stated he thought the sound system was in the bid. Berger next talked about professionalism and elected/appointed officials overstepping their bounds in their duties. Berger stated this applies on and off the job and those know who he is talking to. Chairman Scheurer stated it should apply to everyone, including commissioners. Scheurer added a lot of policies aren’t followed at all on both sides and the commissioners need to rethink the approaches they take to do business. No further action was taken.
Auditor Brost gave the board an update on the financial software the county currently uses. Brost stated they went live with the software January 1st after double entering for a year. Although they have made the best of it, both the Auditor’s office and Treasurer’s office feel it is best to cut ties and go back to the AS400 until they can find a different software that is geared more towards counties. No further action was taken.
Colette Schilling, Land Use Administrator/Tax Director, presented several zoning cases to the board. Motion made by Commissioner Murray, second by Commissioner Entze to approve temporary use zoning case #489 a renewal of non-farm residence to be used as a rental house for Arlen Kurtti in part of parcel 1 in SE ¼ NE ¼ Section 10 T144N R87W. On roll call vote; Murray, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Schilling presented Temporary Use permit #490 a conditional use permit renewal (#15-12-01) from Civeo Corporation for crew camp housing in the NE ¼ SE ¼ Section 7 T144N R87W. Commissioner Gunsch stated he is not in favor of renewing the permit for Civeo Corporation and if the time comes for the main camp, they can go through the Planning & Zoning process again. Gunsch added he spoke with a contractor who had moved dirt for Civeo Corporation and didn’t receive payment from them. Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch to deny Temporary Use permit #490. Commissioner Berger asked if the permit was to bring in units. Commissioner Gunsch stated if the permit was approved they would be able to bring in units. Commissioner Murray asked if they would have to apply through Planning & Zoning and start over. Commissioner Gunsch stated yes, and it would bring it back to a hearing. The motion was second by Commissioner Murray. Commissioner Berger asked if this was the company that wanted their own water and electrical. Commissioner Gunsch stated yes. Berger asked if there were problems with the State Health Department. Chairman Scheurer stated he didn’t know if there were problems, but didn’t think the permit was finalized. Commissioner Gunsch stated if they wanted the permit renewed, they should have been present at the meeting. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Schilling stated Infinity Wind Power sold the company to Sun Energy, who then sold to Antelope Hills Wind Energy Project, who sold to West Branch Wind Project, and now sold back to Infinity Wind Power. Schilling stated nothing in the permits #14-09-01 and #14-09-04 will change but the name. Commissioner Berger asked how this effected Mercer County’s control over the permit. State’s Attorney Binder replied all the specific terms will still apply. Motion made by Commissioner Murray, second by Commissioner Gunsch to approve the name change on permits #14-09-01 and #14-09-04. Chairman Scheurer stated Infinity Wind Power sent out letters and reinstated easement payments to the landowners. Commissioner Entze asked if this was the company that had the higher turbines. Chairman Scheurer stated they lessened the height from the blade to the ground. State’s Attorney Binder stated it was a matter of three (3) feet on the blade due to technology. Schilling stated she could have Casey Willis come in and update the board on the project. Commissioner Berger asked if the county increased the setback from the buildings and Commissioner Gunsch stated that was denied. Commissioner Berger stated he would like to ask them when they are going to pick up the monies the county is going to lose from the plants and mines. On roll call vote; Murray, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Schilling stated she was contacted by Scott Solem to work weekends to help assess in the City of Beulah along with Ryan Oberg of McLean County. Schilling added this would keep them in the loop with where the City of Beulah is going without hiring additional staff in her office. Commissioner Gunsch asked if Schilling could handle the workload. Schilling stated she could and it would just be for two (2) months. State’s Attorney Binder stated since it is outside employment it is up to the department head. Since Schilling is an appointed official, Binder suggested she bring it to the board. Schilling would not be making decisions that would affect both entities. Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Murray to allow Schilling to work with the City of Beulah on assessments on a trial basis. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Schilling informed the board she hired a new Administrative Assistant, Jennifer Neumiller, to start on December 28th for 24 hours per week. Schilling noted she received her final certification from the state and is now a Class I Assessor for Mercer County. No further action was taken.
The board recessed at 9:59 AM.
The board reconvened at 10:05 AM.
Commissioner Berger stated the auditor had the contract bond and no accounts were too outstanding on the report from Administrative Assistant, Rachel Grimm.
Auditor Brost presented to the board the contract and contract bond from the NDDOT on County 13. Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Gunsch to approve the contract and contract bond from Northern Improvement Company. On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Commissioner Murray stated he had a request from Clerk of Court Knutson to carryover 64 hours of vacation to 2017, but policy doesn’t allow for that to happen. State’s Attorney Binder read the vacation policy and stated the policy does not allow for employees to start the year with more than 320 hours and vacation hours are no longer paid out. Commissioner Berger stated he would like further explanation from Knutson. Commissioner Gunsch thought the issue should have been brought to the board sooner than the last meeting in December. Commissioner Berger stated I guess whatever, rules are rules. Motion made by Commissioner Murray, second by Commissioner Entze to deny the request from Knutson due to Policy 303: Vacation Benefits. On roll call vote; Murray, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Berger, “Nay”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Commissioner Gunsch addressed Mercer County’s social media policy. Gunsch stated the board needs to take a look at it and make sure they are in compliance. Gunsch stated the policy states any county employee when using social media should: adhere to the county technology, internet, and email policy; do not post confidential or proprietary information about the organization, our staff members, elected officials, clients, or business partners. It is important to protect this information; the county logo or other organizational images may not be used on personal social media sites without permission from the County Commission or their designee. The County’s name may not be used to promote personal cause, product, political party, or candidate; Be respectful of the organization, other staff members, elected officials, vendors, and business partners; If you come across positive or negative remarks about the County or County related services that you believe are important, please forward this information to your supervisor or Auditor. Commissioner Gunsch stated the meetings are getting videotaped and put on Facebook and this has never been approved by the County Commission. Gunsch added this should be going on the county’s website but a cost analysis should be done first. Gunsch noted the videotaping should cease immediately until it is approved by the board. Commissioner Berger told Commissioner Gunsch to get it done. He added not one person that reads his posts on Facebook shouldn’t be entitled to know what is going on. Commissioner Gunsch told Berger as a commissioner he is not allowed to do it without board approval. State’s Attorney Binder stated Berger’s Facebook page is using Mercer County’s name as if it was the official page, but it is not. Chairman Scheurer stated elected officials need to police themselves because it is different for someone who is a commissioner versus a public citizen. Scheurer added he does not follow social media but has heard negative things about what is being posted and as an elected official things like that should not be posted. Commissioner Gunsch stated as public officials, the commissioners need to set an example to the taxpayers and need to be careful with social media because they are representing the whole county. Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, second by Commissioner Murray that social media cease by using county logo and other organization images and by posting meeting videos. Commissioner Berger asked why this was coming up now. Commissioner Gunsch told Berger he is a commissioner now and needs to set a different precedence. Berger stated the people that voted for him are entitled to see the commission meetings. Commissioner Gunsch stated Berger is a commissioner now and it needs to be approved by the board. Berger asked if he could hire someone to video the meetings. State’s Attorney Binder stated not under Berger’s directions and the issue at hand is the use of the county’s name and county logo. On roll call vote; Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Berger, “Nay”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Dena Kemmet and Craig Askim, Extension Agency, updated the board with their year-end summary. Askim stated the harvest season was long due to weather. It started dry, there was a lot of rain in June, and things wrapped up in November. Askim noted yields were good, production was good, and the only down factor was price. Askim stated they will be looking at a wet spring in 2017, which may cause some financial issues for farmers. Askim updated about the Vet Feed Directive, Lead Local Event, and added the next Annual Crops Education Day will be held on January 31st.
Kemmet updated the board on the work she has been doing with the senior health insurance counseling. Kemmet stated $2668 was the largest individual savings, $17702 in total savings, and an average savings of $316.11. Kemmet added the extension agency is unbiased and research based. They help people save money and do not sell or benefit in anyway. Kemmet noted they are planning to do an advisory board meeting shortly after the first of the year. The board thanked Kemmet and Askim for the updates.
The board recessed at 10:45 AM.
The board reconvened at 11:00 AM.
Jim Theurer and Travis Fuechtmann, Contegrity Group, gave the board an update on the Courthouse Expansion/Remodel. Fuechtmann passed out the budget update to the board. He stated the big expense was AECOM and that was pulled from the contingency fund, and overall the budget is going well. Commissioner Gunsch asked if the board room infrastructure was in the bid. Fuechtmann stated there are two (2) cameras and a recording system in the project. Theurer stated the building is 95% framed out and there is a little bit of soffit to finish next week. The plumbing and electrical inspection are complete and now everything can be sheet rocked but the bathrooms and courtroom. Theurer added the blockwork in the jail is 50% complete, ductwork is 50% complete, and 20% of the ductwork is insulated. Theurer noted the concrete work will be finished up within the next two (2) weeks. Commissioner Gunsch stated the meeting went well yesterday and thanked Jim Albers, Maintenance Engineer, for all the extra work and also Contegrity Group for all the hard work. Commissioner Entze stated there has been huge improvements since the last time he saw the project and encouraged everyone to continue working together and move forward. Entze added the communication has been great. Commissioner Berger asked Albers what percentage of his day is spent on the expansion, wondering if he had any time at all for custodial. Albers stated for the last three (3) weeks he spent moving snow and maintenance issues are first and foremost in his department. Fuechtmann stated it is great to have a board that lets Albers be a part of the project and Albers has done a great job working with them.
The board recessed at 11:19 AM.
The board reconvened at 11:30 AM.
Sherwin Wanner, Houston Engineering, presented a change order to the board for the Landfill Capping project. Wanner stated the contractor needed to incorporate more water into the soils, so the increase for the change order is $11475. Wanner added they met with the contractor and they compared the field notes to the machine logs. Houston Engineering came up with 52 hours of time and the contractor requested 51 hours. Chairman Scheurer asked if retainage was withheld. Wanner stated $5630.65 was withheld until the spring to verify the seed takes hold. Scheurer stated the landfill has money in the fund for the change order and he is in full agreement with what Houston Engineering has come up with. Chairman Scheurer added he was aware of the soil conditions at the landfill. Wanner stated during the bid process the engineer’s estimate was considerably higher and even with the change order, the final project cost is still considerably lower than the engineer’s estimate. Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Berger to approve change order number 1 in the amount of $11,475.00. On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Berger, “Aye”, Gunsch, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, motion carried.
Wanner updated the board that the permit renewal is still at the health department under review and has been dated as received. Chairman Scheurer asked if the capping project was now complete except to pay out the retainage in the spring. Wanner stated that is correct, they will just verify the seeding is accurate. The board thanked Wanner for his time.
There being no further business, on motion duly made and second, the meeting was adjourned at 11:39 AM CST. The next regular meeting of the commission will be January 4, 2017 at 9:00 AM CT in the courtroom of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.
Approved: Duane Scheurer, Chairman
Attest: Shana L. Brost, Auditor