Most recently approved County Commission Minutes

 

Mercer County Commission
Minutes
April 2, 2014

 

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

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, seconded by Commissioner Scheurer to approve agenda with additions. On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Tveit to approve the minutes of the March 14th special commission meeting and the March 19th commission meeting as presented.  On roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, seconded by Commissioner Entze to approve the payments of bills as follows: Beulah City Park District, $2,484.69; Beulah Fire Protection District, $1,087.43; Beulah School District, $114,722.16; Center Stanton School District #1, $20,524.80; City of Beulah, $21,310.79; City of Golden Valley, $985.62; City of Hazen, $21,004.32; City of Pick City, $1,501.72; City of Stanton, $2,765.53; City of Zap, $1,739.26; Glen Ullin Rural Fire District, $40.04; Glen Ullin School District #48, $964.08; Golden Valley Rural Fire District, $269.17; Halliday Public School District, $22.84; Halliday Rural Fire Protection District, $299.05; Hazen City Park District, $2,040.08; Hazen Rural Fire District, $1,766.48; Hazen School District 3, $68,164.31; Hebron Public School District 13, $8,178.62; Hebron Fire Protection District, $482.19; ND State Treasurer, $1,496.49; Soil Conservation District, $1,244.44; Southwest Water Authority, $1,440.32; Stanton City Park District, $218.67; Stanton Rural Fire Protection, $1,069.95; Twin Buttes Public School District, $59.91; Underwood School District, $5,851.06; Zap City Park District, $133.93; Zap Rural Fire Protection, $823.67; Custer Health District, $6,292.18; Thomas D. Kaspari, MD PC, $200.00; McLean Mercer Library, $27,096.51; Mercer & McLean Counties, $2,815.79; Mercer County Ambulance Service, $5,784.34; Mercer County Fair Association, $1,410.56; Mercer County Historical Society, $268.41; Mercer County Regional Airport, $5,109.08; Verizon Wireless, $1,101.00; Water Resource District, $5,422.39; AED Everywhere, $185.90; Laura Bakken, $72.24; Beulah Job Development Authority, $606.34; BHG Inc., $2,878.90; Frank Bitterman, $99.68; Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND, $41,392.52; Boyko Foods, $390.00; Shana Brost, $72.24; Cabela’s MKTG & Brand MGT. Inc., $29.34; Café Dumond, $62.79; Canad Inns, $99.00; CardMember Service, $962.00; Cenex, $6,661.00; CenturyLink, $271.50; Coal Country CHC, $134.00; Comfort Suites, $232.20; Comfort Inn, $222.00; Brenda Cook, $157.92; Corner Express of Center L.L.C., $46.00; Ronald Crowley, $144.90; D & E Supply Co. Inc., $347.25; Days Hotel on University, $224.54; Sam Dschaak, $25.00; Eide Ford Company, $28,706.35; Gary Emter, $25.00; Diane Fondie, $6.20; Galls/QuarterMaster, $1,140.34; Graphics Lettering & Trim, $510.00; Hazen Drug, $813.89; Hiway Express, $109.16; IAAP Sakakawea Chapter, $90.00; Implementation Specialists, $8,622.55; Information Technology Department, $401.35; J & L Automotive LLC, $421.35; Free Karges, $85.00; Dena Kemmet, $36.00; Matthew Bender & Company Inc., $256.31; Menards, $73.95; Mercer County Ambulance Service, $200.00; Kurt Milbradt, $480.00; Montana Dakota Utilities, $106.28; NDACo Resources Group, $366.65; ND Association of Counties, $1,433.98; ND Department of Transportation, $11.50; ND Game & Fish Department, $825.00; John Neuberger, $25.00; Oriental Trading Company, $167.50; Christopher Oyen, $25.00; PharmChem, Inc., $105.00; BW Plus Ramkota Hotel, $91.00; Redwood Biotech Inc., $86.00; Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, $150.00; Carmen Reed, $514.44; Reliance Telephone Systems, Inc., $1,500.00; Kathy Repnow, $16.00; Sailer Septic Service, $90.00; Sakakawea Medical Center, $2,614.90; Eli Schumann, $25.00; Seatol, $350.00; Southwest Business Machines Inc., $155.68; Staples Credit Plan, $1,230.83; Ryan Taylor, $112.00; Terrance Ternes, $27.46; Leonard Tesky, $480.00; Uniform Center, $69.39; Venture Marketing, $29.95; Verizon Wireless, $46.16; Hazen Star, $231.00; Interstate Battery System, $499.90; J & M Hardware, Inc., $6.96; Light and Siren, $2,674.43; Napa, $336.99; RDO Equipment Company, $222,150.00; St. Alexius Clinics, $93.00; Team Electronics, $2,521.95; Verizon Wireless, $179.05; Angie Weigum, $25.00; Mitchell Weigum, $25.00.  Upon roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Scheurer to duplicate warrant #50282 issued on 1/7/2011 to Marcie Gunsch in the amount of $250.00.  On roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to send the un-cashed Treasurer’s checks to the State Land Department, Unclaimed Property Division: Check #49580 issued on 7/28/2009 in the amount of $20.00 to Jason Ballensky; Check #49755 issued on 12/7/2009 in the amount of $3.03 to Dennis Wierzbecki; Check #50007 issued on 4/6/2010 in the amount of $52.84 to Debra Kolkman; Check #50391 issued on 3/29/2011 in the amount of $51.63 to Debra Kolkman; Check #50561 issued on 10/11/2011 in the amount of $10.00 to Joseph Couillard.  On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Auditor Brost asked to give a quick update on the County Government Luncheon.  Brost stated that the county has received $1,675.00 in donations to fund this event.  She also asked who on the board would like to present the service awards at the luncheon.  Chairman Murray stated he would hand out the awards and Commissioner Bitterman stated that he would read off the names.  No further action was taken.

Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to approve Liquor License #379 for Sunday Openings—On/Off Sale Beer and Liquor and License #380 for Semi-Annual On/Off Sale Beer and Liquor License for Dakota Waters Resort.  On roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to approve Liquor License #381 for Sunday Openings—Off Sale Beer and License #382 for Semi-Annual—Off  Sale Beer for Hazen Bay Express.  On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The monthly financial statement was reviewed. No further action was taken.

The Landfill monthly tonnage report was reviewed.  The report reads as follows:  Trees & Wood, 24.1 ton; Steel, 3.64 ton; Household, 436.42 ton; Inert, 69.22 ton; Tires, 46; Whiteware, 29; Large Animals, 1; Weighed Trucks, 1.  No further action was taken.

Auditor Brost gave the board an update on LIDAR on Greg Lange’s behalf.  Lange stated there is a federal coalition that has put help together and these would be the logical people to talk to.  He did not feel it was likely they would come and help because they are focusing on completing north and east of the Missouri River first.  The only county south and west of the Missouri River moving forward is McKenzie County, and Lange felt if they are going to do something in the short run they should get in with McKenzie County.  The State Water Commission does a cost share of 50%, but they are not bound to that; they may state that it is too early and a couple of years down the road have the money for Mercer County.  Lange has received feedback from the City of Beulah stating they are very interested in seeing it happen but haven’t made a specific offer.  He feels they would rather have us come up with a number, but thinks it is too early for that.  Lange stated that to do it in the short run will cost more local funds, so it may not be the year to do it.  Commissioner Scheurer thought it would be good to have it in the budget.  Chairman Murray stated it would be a good thing if Beulah, Hazen, and the county all would get on board.  Commissioner Tveit noted that there was no one better to lead it than the water board.  Commissioner Entze added that it would be good to have a single source to go to.  Chairman Murray also noted that people aren’t buying homes in the flood plain anymore because of the cost.  One individual he had spoken with stated that their flood insurance used to be $400/year and now is $3,000/year.  No further action was taken.

Gary Emter, Land Use Administrator, presented the board with an abatement for Dwight and Darbie Berger.  Emter stated that the Berger’s purchased three lots from the City of Stanton in 2012 and the city assessor put a value on them that was completely different than all the other lots in Miller’s 1st Subdivision.  The Bergers took the issue to the City of Stanton, where they agreed to reduce the value of each lot from $7,000 to $1,800 to be the same as the rest of the lots in the subdivision.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to approve the abatement for Dwight and Darbie Berger.  On roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

The board recessed at 9:35 AM CDT.

The board reconvened at 10:00 AM CDT.

Steve Hoetzer, President of the Homeowner’s Association Cabin Site #2, presented the board with an aerial photo of where the Cabin Site is located.  Hoetzer stated that there has been three rollover accidents at the first corner coming from the south.  Cabin Site #2 contains 42 lots and 34 landowners, of which 29 are a part of the Homeowner’s Association. Hoetzer wanted to talk to the board about four specific areas that when it rains or the frost comes out the road ruts are six to eight inches deep around the corners.  He came to the board to ask if it would be in the county’s budget to repair these areas with Class 5 gravel.  Hoetzer noted that on the Isaac corner scoria was put down, but now is just red dust and by the big dip there is no crown on the road.  He thanked the county for grading the road the last couple of years.  Road Superintendent, Ken Miller, stated that they are going to try and pull the shoulders on the road and build the crown back up.  They have plans to put in an approach on the north side to turn around the blade since they cannot use the Girl Scout camp anymore.  Miller stated that he will have to see how much gravel will be needed.  Hoetzer also thanked the board and county employees for keeping the snow cleared on this road.  Chairman Murray asked Miller if this is something they can get to.  Miller stated yes, they would this summer.  Commissioner Tveit noted that there are a lot of places that need gravel this summer.  Miller said that they would do what they could to get it done.  Commissioner Tveit asked Hoetzer about paving the road and how it was coming along. Hoetzer stated that it has been dropped at this point because it was going to cost much more than expected and not everyone would be able to afford it.  He also stated that the assessments would be high if it was paved and felt that it would just be a patch job for the price they were quoted.  Chairman Murray asked how many people live out there year round.  Hoetzer stated that four do currently and thought in the near future it would be five residences.  Murray stated to Hoetzer that the county would get after that road and thanked him for coming by.  No further action was taken.

Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Tveit to approve Utility Occupancy Application and Permit #1378(14) to West River Telecommunications Cooperative for Fiber Optic Facilities by plowing cable into County Road Right-of-Way.  The location of the facility is Mercer County Roads 20 and 13 in Sections 19, 23, & 24 T144N R88 & 89W.  On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Miller stated that he has been working with the Policy Committee to come up with a pay scale for Utility Workers, Truck Drivers, and Operators.  Miller presented the following:  Utility Worker, starting rate $16.67, after one year and a favorable evaluation rate of $17.67; Truck Driver Class B, starting rate $18.72, after six months and favorable evaluation rate of $19.09, and after one year and a favorable evaluation rate of $19.25; Truck Driver Class A, starting rate of $19.09, after six months and a favorable evaluation rate of $19.25, and after one year and a favorable evaluation rate of $19.44; Operator I, starting rate of $21.45, after six months and a favorable evaluation rate of $21.95, after one year and a favorable evaluation rate of $22.55, and after another year and favorable evaluation rate of $23.42; Operator II starting rate with two or more years of experience $21.95, after six months and a favorable evaluation $22.55, and after one year and a favorable evaluation $23.42.  Miller noted that as the county gives annual raises during budget negotiations; these numbers will increase by that much.  Commissioner Bitterman asked the question if someone who was just hired as a utility worker works for three months and the county finds out they are an operator will this person go from $16.67/hour to $21.45/hour.  Commissioner Tveit stated if there was an open position, then yes.  Miller stated that this proposed employee step increase would make budget preparations much easier.  Auditor Brost stated that the budget would have to be looked at closely before this pay scale could become effective.  Commissioner Bitterman stated that the county could add money to the budget to accommodate the pay scale.  Commissioner Entze disagreed by stating that the board cannot just add money to the budget, if the budget goes over it would have to be amended at the end of the year.  Miller added that they do have Gary Sailer’s salary line that has been open since the beginning of the year.  Commissioner Tveit stated that Miller has worked on this pay scale very diligently.  Tveit went on to say that this would not be considered a ray raise for the county road employees; it is just something that has been put off.  Commissioner Tveit added that the pay scale would give Miller something to go by and should be commended for putting it together, also that some of these employees have been held off, so he would like to see the pay scale go into effect on April 1st.  Miller handed out a spreadsheet containing the proposed employee’s step increases.  He based them off of the new proposed wage and 1,560 hours, which would be three fourths of a work year based on a normal 40 hour work week.  The proposal is as follows:  Howard Larson, Operator II, current wage $22.55, proposed wage $23.42, total of $1,357.20; Doug Olander, Class B Truck Driver, current wage $18.72, proposed wage $19.09, total of $577.20;  Keith Morast, Class A Truck Driver, current wage $19.09, proposed wage $19.25, total of $249.60; Curtis Gartner, Operator I, current wage $21.45, proposed wage $21.95, total of $780.00; Anthony Horne, Operator II, current wage $22.55, proposed wage $23.42, total of $452.40.  The step increases would increase the budget a total of $3,416.40.  Auditor Brost reminded Miller that each employee is budgeted for 150 hours of overtime during budget season, so these figures would also need to be included.  State’s Attorney Binder stated that the auditor could look at the budget and come back to the next meeting with some numbers.  No further action was taken.

Miller handed out to the board a truck hauling fee schedule.  He stated that it has not been revised since January 1, 2006, which was a price of $0.14/ton mile.  The new fee schedule suggests $0.35/ton mile. Miller stated that he would like to keep it reasonable for all the farmers and ranchers, but needs to charge enough to cover the cost of an operator and the fuel.  Commissioner Scheurer stated that he had a complaint that the county wasn’t charging enough, so he feels the prices should be looked at on an annual basis.  Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Scheurer to adopt the new hauling rates for the remainder of 2014 and look at it again in the beginning of 2015.  On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Steve Mamer, Interstate Engineering, stated that after the bids were reviewed for the 2014 Seal Coat & Pavement Markings, Bituminous Paving did have an error and the new bid price came in at $799,078.21.  This was $2,209 higher, but still came in as the lowest bidder.  Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Bitterman to award Bituminous Paving the 2014 Seal Coat & Pavement Markings.  On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.  Mamer added that the contracts are in the works and will be sent out today.

Mamer discussed the plan and specification approvals for two box culverts, east of County 21 and another west of County 9.  Commissioner Entze asked if the county could do anything with the sharp hill on County 9.  Mamer stated that although it is steep and they could shave it down a little bit, they still do need a flat spot there.  Commissioner Bitterman asked if both of the boxes were on Antelope Creek and if they were big enough.  Mamer stated they were both along Antelope Creek and that by law they are required to size them properly.  Mamer suggested a bid date of May 7 at 10:00 AM, which would give him enough time to advertise and also enough time at the meeting to tally the bids and award in the same day.  Commissioner Bitterman asked if they were old wooden bridges now.  Mamer stated that the one in Beulah is a concrete abutment, but in pieces and the one in Hazen is timber; the timber and planking will be salvaged.  Motion made by Commissioner Scheurer, second by Commissioner Entze to approve the plans and specifications for the two box culverts, give permission to advertise, and set the bid opening date for May 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT.  On roll call vote; Scheurer, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Commissioner Bitterman asked Mamer if next year or the year after he planned on putting in a box culvert at the Johnathan Shields structure.  Mamer stated that they have looked at it and have repaired it in the past; this structure was built in the 1960s. He added that he will look at the rating sheet for the bridge.

Mamer spoke with the board about his meeting with Bob Fagerstrom, Dakota Gasification, about a proposed new rail line adjacent to the one currently at the plant now and parallel to County 26.  He stated this new proposed rail would be encroaching in county right-of-way.  Mamer doesn’t yet have a detailed drawing but will get one from Fagerstrom.

Mamer stated that he spoke with Ray Sheldon about the bridge on County 17 and they are trying to get it designed and built yet this year.  Mamer would like to get an agreement in place.  He stated there has been a substantial drop in trucks coming to the site due to an issue with a vendor not delivering product on time.  Sheldon told Mamer they hope to have it resolved by the end of April.  If anything, Mamer would like to see the agreements in place and get the road ready for next year.

James Melchoir, Coyote Creek Mining Company President, discussed with the board an agreement he and State’s Attorney Binder have been working on for County 25.  Melchoir stated that he added that the road shall be designed with gravel surfacing at this time, but the road shall be designed and constructed to accommodate future hard-surfacing development of the road in light of the parties’ mutual desire to improve the road if necessary in the future.  Also added was the reconstruction bids shall be received and the contract awarded in a timely manner to complete construction by November 1, 2014.  Mamer estimated the project cost of $1.5 million.  Mamer stated that he is not comfortable with the agreement stating that the cost cannot exceed $1.5 million.  Melchoir noted that in paragraph six the agreement states that in the event the projected project costs are expected to be exceeded, the county shall provide Coyote Creek with documentation identifying any such additional costs and their relationship to the work contemplated by this agreement.  As a side note, Melchoir noted that the estimated cost to build a road in the west versus the east is 239.8% higher.  Commissioner Tveit stated that his is not comfortable with the exclusion of the hard-surfacing because of dust control issues.  Melchoir stated that the road will be constructed to accommodate hard-surfacing and they will look at it in 2015 because there may be funds to help with it.  He added that he would like to see it hard-surfaced, but it is not in the budget to do it up front.  State’s Attorney Binder noted that the road may need a couple of years to pack down before it is paved.  She also stated that if Commissioner Tveit is worried about dust control, paragraph five in the agreement addresses the maintenance of the road.  Melchoir asked Binder if she has wording to incorporate to cover that in the agreement.  Binder said they could do a separate haul road agreement.  No further action was taken.

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

Donn Steffen, Coyote Creek Mining Company, discussed the section line road between the E ½ SE ¼ of Section 30 and the E ½ NE ¼ of Section 31 T143N R88W and the section line road between the SW ¼ of Section 29 and SE ¼ of Section 30 T143N R88W.  Steffen stated that most of the activity will be on the north side of the section line, but would need a setback waiver because they will be within 100 feet of the section line on the west side of the north 150 feet of the section line road between the NE ¼ of Section 31 and the NW ¼ of Section 32 T143N R88W.  Steffen noted that the mine will put the land back to the original condition when they are done.  Commissioner Entze asked what would happen if someone’s livestock is on the other side of the proposed closed section line.  Steffen stated that this would not exclude landowner’s and their continual rights.  Commissioner Tveit asked if all the easements have been obtained.  Steffen stated that yes; all the leases have been signed.  Chairman Murray then opened it up for public comment.  Casey Voigt asked if surface owners will be required to have MSHA training.  Steffen said no because MSHA doesn’t require it, but there is a hazard training that takes around 15 minutes that would need to be done annually.  Melchoir added that the haul roads are shared with farmers and ranchers, so they will need to be trained for safety while using these roads.  Commissioner Tveit asked what would happen if an adjacent landowners cattle were to get on Coyote Creek’s property.  Steffen stated they would contact the landowners and escort them onto the property.  Ron Gunsch asked what would happen if he had a lot of people out at his place to help him work cattle, would they need to watch the training video if they wanted to cross the haul road.  Steffen stated that legally they would have to, but it happens all the time where you can’t get everyone that training.  Voigt asked if the permit area will be marked.  Steffen stated the entire boundary area will be marked.  He added that he will be in asking to close many more section lines as the active area progresses.  Commissioner Bitterman wondered if Coyote Creek had planned on putting signs on ND Highway 49 for the truck traffic.  Steffen stated that once they were up and running he did not anticipate heavy truck traffic, just the occasional UPS or FEDEX delivery; there would be heavy small traffic, such as the employees coming to work.

After reviewing the resolution, State’s Attorney Binder requested that paragraph two should state farmers and ranchers, not just farmers.  There was no further discussion or input from the public.  Motion made by Commissioner Entze, second by Commissioner Scheurer to close the public hearing and reopen the regular meeting.  On roll call vote; Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.

Motion made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Scheurer to temporarily close the section line and adopt the resolution as amended.  On roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.  The resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, Coyote Creek Mining Company, LLL (“Coyote Creek”) has petitioned the Board of County Commissioners of Mercer County, North Dakota (“Commission”) to temporarily close the following described section line roads that interfere with surface coal mining operations pursuant to the provisions of Chapters 38-01-07.1 and 38-01-07.2 of the North Dakota Century Code:

  1. The section line road between the E ½ SE ¼ of Section 30 and the E ½ NE ¼ of Section 31, Township 143 North, Range 88 West; and
  2. The section line road between the SE ¼ of Section 29 and SE ¼ of Section 30, Township 143 North, Range 88 West.

WHEREAS, a public hearing was held upon the Petition of Coyote Creek before the Commission on the 2nd day of April 2014, in the courthouse in the City of Stanton, North Dakota, and the Commission having heard and considered all of the testimony and evidence presented.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Commission does hereby find, conclude and determine as follows:

  1. That the Commission has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Petition and the section line roads involved therein.
  2. That the Notice of Hearing on said Petition was duly served and published as required by law.
  3. That the temporary closing of said section line roads is necessary due to the fact that said section line roads interfere with Coyote Creek’s surface coal mining and reclamation operations.
  4. That said section line roads are not required due to readily accessible alternate routes of travel.
  5. That the temporary closing of said section line roads does not deprive adjacent landowners access to their property.
  6. That a public benefit exists in temporarily closing said section line roads and that the interests of the public and affected landowners will be protected.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, based on the foregoing, that the Commission hereby determines and orders as follows:

  1. That the following section line roads be temporarily closed until such time as Coyote Creek’s surface coal mining and reclamation operations which affect the use of said section line roads by the general public are completed:
    1. The section line road between the E ½ SE ¼ of Section 30 and the E ½ NE ¼ of Section 31, Township 143 North, Range 88 West; and
    2. The section line road between the SW ¼ of Section 29 and SE ¼ of Section 30, Township 143 North, Range 88 West.
  2. That Coyote Creek provide farmers and ranchers access to their lands for farming and ranching purposes during the time that section line roads are temporarily closed.
  3. That within a reasonable period of time after completion of surface coal mining and reclamation operations Coyote Creek shall restore said section line roads to as good a condition as existed prior to the temporary closing to the extent required by the Commission.
  4. That Coyote Creek inform the Commission when the restoration of said section line roads is completed, at which time Coyote Creek shall tender said section line roads to the Commission for acceptance for general public use.
  5. That the Commission may at any time exercise its rights to monitor the continued need for the temporary closing of said section line roads and may request Coyote Creek to show cause why said section line roads should not be reopened if surface coal mining operations in the vicinity thereof have been completed.
  6. That this Resolution, the Petition involved therein, the Affidavits of Service and the Affidavits of Publication of Notice of Hearing be filed with the Mercer County Auditor.

DATED at Stanton, North Dakota, this 2nd day of April, 2014.

MERCER COUNTY COMMISSION

/s/Gary Murray, Chairman

/s/Frank H. Bitterman, Commissioner

/s/Duane F. Scheurer, Commissioner

/s/William Tveit, Commissioner

/s/Wayne Entze, Commissioner

ATTEST

Shana L Brost, Mercer County Auditor”

Motion made by Commissioner Tveit, second by Commissioner Entze to accept the setback waiver and adopt the resolution.  On roll call vote; Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Bitterman, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.  The resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 38-14.0-07 of the North Dakota Century Code and Chapter 69-05.2-04 of the North Dakota Administrative Code, Coyote Creek Mining Company, LLC (“Coyote Creek”) petitioned the Board of County Commissioners of Mercer County, North Dakota (“Commission”) for permission to conduct surface coal mining operations within 100 feet of the section line of the following public road:

  1. The west side of the north 150 feet of the section line road between the NE ¼ of Section 31 and the NW ¼ of Section 32, Township 143 North, Range 88 West.

WHEREAS, a public hearing was held upon the Petition of Coyote Creek before the Commission on the 2nd day of April 2014, in the Courthouse in the City of Stanton, North Dakota, and the Commission having heard and considered all of the testimony and evidence presented;

WHEREAS, the Commission has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Petition and the public road and right-of-way stated therein;

WHEREAS, the Notice of Hearing on said Petition was published as required by law; and

WHEREAS, the interests of the public and the interests of affected landowners will be protected.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Commission does hereby approve the conducting of surface coal mining operations, except actual cost removal, by Coyote Creek within 100 feet of the section line of the following public road:

  1. The west side of the north 150 feet of the section line road between the NE ¼ of Section 31 and the NW ¼ of Section 32, Township 143 North, Range 88 West.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution, the Petition involved herein, and the Affidavits of Publication of Notice of Hearing to be filed with the Mercer County Auditor.

DATED at Stanton, North Dakota, this 2nd day of April, 2014.

MERCER COUNTY COMMISSION

/s/Gary Murray, Chairman

/s/Frank H. Bitterman, Commissioner

/s/Duane F. Scheurer, Commissioner

/s/William Tveit, Commissioner

/s/Wayne Entze, Commissioner

ATTEST

Shana L Brost, Mercer County Auditor”

The board recessed at 11:30 AM CDT.

The board reconvened at 11:37 AM CDT.

Auditor Brost updated the board on the coal conversion loan that an application was submitted for on March 14, 2014.  Brost received an email from Gerry Fisher, Administrator at the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office, stating that the loan was approved during the Land Board meeting.  Fisher stated the county will just wait to proceed until after the election in June, if the public votes yes.  No further action was taken.

State’s Attorney Binder reviewed the Resolution, Exhibit 1—What the measure pays for, and Exhibit 2—Ballot Question with the board.  Commissioner Tveit stated that the documents were straight forward and used layman’s terms.  Tveit also raised the question if another project came up five years down the road that needed financing, could the county still raise the mill levies.  State’s Attorney Binder stated that this coal conversion loan would be listed as current indebtedness.  Chairman Murray hopes the public does not read the ballot question and think their taxes are going up.  Binder feels the county needs to get across the “if” and the “may”; if we don’t have the revenue, the taxes may go up.  Emter added the county is going to be asked why taxes are going up.  Commissioner Entze stated that hopefully the county can get grants, so the numbers for the construction are escalated; he feels this is the only way Mercer County will survive.  Emter added that the bills for the courthouse are going to double, such as lights and heat.  Commissioner Bitterman stated that we could “what-if” ourselves to death.  Commissioner Scheurer asked when we could start applying for grants.  Sheriff Danzeisen stated we can apply for grants when we receive the final number of how much the construction will cost.  He added that the grants are all figures, so it is something the auditor would have to do.  Commissioner Entze stated that receiving grants could lighten the burden to the county tremendously.  Motions made by Commissioner Bitterman, second by Commissioner Scheurer to pass and adopt the resolution and approve Exhibits 1 and 2.  On roll call vote; Bitterman, “Aye”, Scheurer, “Aye”, Tveit, “Aye”, Entze, “Aye”, Murray, “Aye”, motion carried.  The resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners (the “Board”) of Mercer County (the “County”) has determined that certain additions and improvements to the courthouse, law enforcement center, and jail of the County are required to better serve the needs of the public in order to provide members of the public and employees using the same with adequate, proper and safe facilities.

WHEREAS, in order to provide funds to plan, acquire, design, construct, equip and install such additions and improvements, the Board hereby deems it necessary and advisable that the County make an extraordinary expenditure to pay for such additions and improvements as the proposed expenditure is greater than can be provided for by the annual tax levies.

WHEREAS, North Dakota Century Code (“N.D.C.C.”) § 11-11-18, provides that the Board shall submit to the electors of the County at a special election any proposal for the extraordinary outlay of money by the County when the proposed expenditure is greater in amount than can be provided for by the annual tax levies.

WHEREAS, N.D.C.C., Chap. 21-03 provides that the Board shall submit to the electors of the County at a special election whether the County may issue general obligation bonds to pay the costs associated with such additions and improvements.

WHEREAS, in order to authorize such an extraordinary expenditure and issue such general obligation bonds of the County, it is deemed advisable to call a special election to be held on June 10, 2014.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MERCER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, THAT:

Section 1. The Board hereby finds it is necessary and advisable to construct, equip and furnish additions and improvements to the existing County courthouse, law enforcement center, and jail, including but not limited to those listed on Exhibit 1, which is a part of this resolution and hereby incorporated by reference thereto (hereinafter “the Project”). Such additions and improvements are to be more fully described in the plans and specifications by the County’s architects and engineers and to be filed with the County Auditor.

Section 2. The assessed valuation of all taxable property in the County is $643,954,538.00. The total amount of current bonded indebtedness of the County is $0. The amount of outstanding bonds of the County issued for a similar purpose is $0.

Section 3. The total estimated cost of the Project is hereby declared to be approximately $9.8 million, which shall be paid, in part, by County savings funds in the amount of $2.8 million. Furthermore, the County will apply for the receipt of coal conversion financing from the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office in the approximate amount of $7 million. If approved by the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office, the financing assistance shall be utilized by the County to pay for the balance of the Project with repayment of the loan being deducted from future coal conversion revenues. In the event future coal conversion payments are insufficient to pay the annual loan payments, the repayment of the loan may require a tax increase to replace the lost revenues. Based on the present estimated mill value, the maximum annual cost to repay the loan would be $60.84 if your home is valued at $100,000.00; and $37.00 on a quarter of agricultural land valued at $54,400.00 taxable value.

Section 4. If, in the opinion of the Board, the needs of the County change in a manner that results in a circumstance wherein any portion of the above-referenced Project is not required or in the best interests of the County, the Board retains the right not to acquire, construct, and install any portion of the Project and to reallocate the money originally contemplated therefor to other improvements in the County’s facilities as deemed necessary by the Board, or to deposit such money into the County’s General Fund to make debt service payments on the Bonds outstanding or to call and redeem a portion of the Bonds prior to maturity; provided, any change in use of Bond proceeds shall be in the form and manner required by law.

Section 5. In the event the County has other legally available money or there are Bond proceeds (or interest earnings thereon) remaining after the Project has been completed or duly provided for, the County retains the right to make additional improvements to the facilities of the County as are deemed necessary and desirable by the Board, or to deposit such money into the County’s General Fund to make debt service payments on the Bonds outstanding or to call and redeem a portion of the Bonds prior to maturity; provided, any change in use of Bond proceeds shall be in the form and manner required by law.

Section 6. In the event the Bond proceeds and coal impact financing are insufficient to complete the Project, the County shall use the available money to pay the cost of the Project deemed most necessary and to be in the best interest of the County.

Section 7. The Bonds, if approved and issued, shall be sold in such amounts and at such times as deemed necessary and advisable by the Board all as permitted by law. The Bonds shall bear interest at such rate or rates not to exceed the maximum as provided by law at the time they are sold. The Bonds shall mature in such amounts and at such time or times within a maximum term of 20 years from their date of issue but may mature at an earlier date or dates, as authorized by the Board and provided by law. The Bonds shall be general obligations of the County; and, unless paid from other sources, both principal thereof and interest thereon shall be payable out of annual property tax levies to be made upon all taxable property within the County without limitation as to rate or amount. The designation of the Bonds may be changed to reflect the actual date of issuance. The exact date, form, terms and maturities of the Bonds shall be hereafter fixed by resolution of the Board.

Section 8. A special election is hereby ordered to be held in and for the County on June 10, 2014, in conjunction with the Statewide primary election to be held on such date, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors of the county, for their approval or rejection, the County’s proposal to complete the Project; to incur indebtedness; to issue the Bonds to finance a portion of such Project; and to levy taxes in excess of the regular property tax levies to pay the principal of and interest on the Bonds.

Section 9. The form of ballot for such special election as herein described shall be in substantially the form attached to this resolution as Exhibit A, which is a part of this resolution and the terms are incorporated into this call of election by reference thereto and shall be submitted to the electors at the special election. The County Auditor is authorized to revise the form of the ballot hereto as necessary to comply with all applicable laws.

Section 10. The County Auditor is hereby authorized and directed to call and conduct the special election. The polling hours, polling place, procedures and forms to conduct the special election shall be prescribed by the County Auditor.

Section 11. The County Auditor shall prepare the notice of special election which shall be published in the official County newspaper (i.e. Hazen Star), for four successive weeks prior to the election date pursuant to N.D.C.C. §§ 11-11-20 & 21-03-11

Section 12. In the event the Project is approved, there shall be levied and collected annual tax levies in an amount sufficient in each such year during the life of the Bonds, and until the full payment of both principal thereof and interest thereon, as will provide levy proceeds sufficient in amount to fully pay currently maturing installments of principal of and interest on the Bonds as such becomes due. Such tax levies will be in excess of the regular annual tax levies permitted by law.

DATED at Stanton, North Dakota, this 2nd day of April, 2014.

MERCER COUNTY COMMISSION

/s/Gary Murray, Chairman

ATTEST

Shana L Brost, Mercer County Auditor”

Exhibit 1 reads:

“EXHIBIT 1: WHAT THE MEASURE PAYS FOR –

The measure provides for the construction of additions, modernizations, improvements, and security measures to the Mercer County Courthouse, Law Enforcement Center and Jail, as well as providing furnishings and equipment related thereto. The County will fund the project with revenue and savings, revenues from grants, and in kind services. The balance of remaining project funds will be paid with loans to be repaid with county general funds annually. Repayment may require a tax increase to replace lost revenues.

The specific projects proposed include but are not limited to the following:

  • Construction of Judicial Wing – Construction of courtroom, judge’s chambers, jury room, and new clerk of court’s offices. Construction of secure access for inmates to and from courtroom and designated inmate area therein. Construction of conference rooms.
  • Renovation and Expansion of Existing Sheriff’s Administration Facilities – Renovation and expansion of Sheriff’s Administration facilities to provide additional office space, interview rooms, and evidence storage.
  • Renovation and Expansion of Jail Facilities – Expansion of current inmate housing from 24 beds to 52 beds. Expansion and modernization of kitchen services. Addition of segregated, outdoor recreational unit. Addition of medical examination room.
  • Relocation and Expansion of County Nurse Facilities – Relocation of nursing facilities. Expansion to include a private office, waiting area, medical examination room and storage.
  • Expansion of Current State’s Attorney Offices – Addition of office and conference room. Provide for secure access to department. Expansion of current storage space.
  • Relocation and/or Renovation of Current County Administration Offices – Expansion of Tax Director and Recorder offices into space currently occupied by Clerk of Court to allow for more storage space and general office space. Renovation of current courtroom to designated meeting place of the Mercer County Board of Commissioners. Expansion of storage space for county records for all offices.
  • Installation of Additional Security Features – Construction of main lobby providing one secured access point to the facility through which all individuals will be subject to search and screening. Installation of counters and glass to allow for safe and efficient service to the public.
  • Expansion and Improvement to Current Public Parking – Paving and lighting installation of south parking lot to provide additional parking accessible to proposed main entrance.
  • Miscellaneous and Incidental Improvements – As with any project, miscellaneous and incidental improvements may be necessary to accommodate the above proposed improvements.
  • Furnishings and Equipment – The County expects to utilize all furnishings and equipment already owned by the County, but acquisition of additional furnishings and equipment may be necessary.
  • Site Improvements and Renovation – Site improvements as necessary as a result of the proposed master plan.”

Exhibit 2 reads:         

“EXHIBIT 2 - BALLOT QUESTION

Should the Mercer County Board of Commissioners be authorized to spend a portion of savings and to take out a loan to expand and remodel the current courthouse and jail buildings into one secure facility?

 

(The cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $9.8 million. The County would fund the construction costs by using approximately $2.8 million of county savings; revenues from grants; in kind services; and a loan, such as a coal impact loan in an expected amount of $7 million. In the event coal conversion payments are insufficient to repay the annual loan payment, the repayment of the loan may require a tax increase to replace lost revenues. Based on the present estimated mill value, the maximum annual cost to repay the loan would be $60.84 if your home is valued at $100,000.00; and $37.00 on a quarter of agricultural land valued at $54,400.00 taxable value. The proposed complex would be located at the existing courthouse and jail site.)

 

______ Yes. (Means you support spending a portion of savings and taking out a loan to expand and remodel the current courthouse and jail buildings into one secure facility.)

 

______ No. (Means you do not support spending a portion of savings and taking out a loan to expand and remodel the current courthouse and jail buildings into one secure facility.)” 

There being no further business, on motion duly made and second, the meeting was adjourned at 12:03 PM CDT. The next regular meeting of the commission will be April 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM CT in the courthouse of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.

 

Gary Murray, Chairman

Shana Brost, Auditor