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Commissioners discuss publishing public notices


Fri, Nov 16th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - At the Nov. 13 county board meeting, County Auditor/Treasurer Shirl Boelter asked the board to advertise for newspaper bids for the official newspaper for 2008. This procedure is followed each fall to designate a newspaper as the official newspaper for the notification of the public as to public hearings, advertisements for county employment, and so on.

Commissioner Duane Bakke explained that he has received complaints from citizens and staff about the current notification. People who do not subscribe to the official paper, the Preston-Republican Leader, do not see the notices. Bakke added that with the ongoing process of amending or adding to the zoning ordinances individuals have complained that they were not made aware of public hearings to allow citizen input.

By Minnesota State Statute any publisher of a legal newspaper may make an offer or bid. Bakke suggested that the board needs to look at how to get the best circulation county wide when accepting a newspaper's offer. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud agreed that the notifications should be made in a county wide publication. Bakke noted that it isn't fair to expect people to subscribe to several local papers to receive all the various county notifications. Amunrud said that rather than just accepting the lowest bid, the board should consider the circulation of the newspaper. Bakke said that the statute states that the county shall except the lowest bid. However, the statute states, "the board may reject any offer, if in its judgement the public interest so requires."

Boelter suggested that her department research the statute and come back to the November 27 meeting to get approval for the advertisement for bids.

Human Resource Technician

County Coordinator Karen Brown explained that the Personnel Committee has recommended that a new staffing position be created, Human Resource (HR) Technician, and that the position would be part of the County Coordinator's Department. Brown has suggested that there is not enough time to do all the work and the added full time position will allow all needed work to be completed. The department is now responsible for coordination with the commissioners, budget, personnel, purchasing, and technology.

Commissioners have discussed whether or not the new staffing position should be under the County Coordinator or a stand alone department head. Bakke noted that 24 of 25 other county HR Technicians work under the County Coordinator. He didn't see a need for a department head status.

Bakke asked if there is a long term need or if the present circumstances, meaning the recent flood, have forced a need. Brown responded that the work load was overwhelming prior to the flood. She admitted that added work from the flood delayed projects for a lot of the departments including hers.

Chairman Marc Prestby stated that in his opinion the timing was poor and that the need will play out as the flood related work winds down. The position will require a two year associate degree and will start at a salary of $34,557 plus benefits. The new position was approved, Prestby voted against.

Budget Update

Karen Brown explained that the 2008 budget currently would require a 5.36% levy increase. At that level, a Truth in Taxation Hearing would be required by statute. Brown suggested that by using an additional $78,000 of the fund balance, that the levy increase would then be below the level which requires the hearing. She suggested that the hearing is costly and usually not attended. The total fund balance to be used would be $438,000. The board agreed to keep the levy increase below the level requiring a hearing.

Other Business

• Commissioner Randy Dahl asked Tom Miles, Highway Department, about needed repairs due to the August flood on County Road 27 near where it goes into Houston County. Miles said that Houston County has repaired their section of damaged road. Dahl said that there is no shoulder on the edge of the pavement. Miles agreed that it isn't a safe situation. FEMA is expected to reimburse the county for the cost of the repairs as long as state guidelines are followed.

Miles suggested that the process could be speeded up if the county agreed to use the same process Houston County used for emergency quotes vs. bids. Miles h oped this way could get the work done in early December. Bidding requires a four week advertising period. The board passed a resolution to speed up the process. They passed a second resolution to give permission to go out for bids if the emergency process wasn't consistent with state statute or acceptable for FEMA.

• Sheriff Daryl Jensen asked for approval to purchase a new squad car to replace one of the cars lost in the flood. He had discussed the purchase with the board a few weeks ago and at that time they preferred the car to be purchased from a local dealer. However, Jensen advised the board that it would cost $1300 more to buy local than from the state bid. The state bid would give the business to Car and Truck City of Pine City. The board approved the purchase at the state bid. Amunrud voted against.

Jensen asked for and received approval to buy a used jail transport van for $15,200.

Kingsley Mercantile had the low quote of $2349 for an overhead compressor stainless steel freezer. The board approved the purchase at the low quote.

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