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October 16, 2018

1/8/2018 11:02:00 AM
McMahon to lead County Board, and appointments made

The new chair of the Chisago County Board is Commissioner George McMahon.  He was elected during the organizational meeting Tuesday this week on a 5-0 vote, with Commissioner Lora Walker attending from a remote site electronically.

McMahon said he has hopes to focus attention on housing needs and economic development, public safety, Highway 8 as an economic driver, and social services/public health in the coming year.  McMahon also said the bike trail project (Swedish Immigrant Regional Trail) momentum should be kept in the forefront and he thanked Laird Mork, county parks, and others “for their fine work” and who have been tireless in efforts to get this route built.

The commissioners set-up the same meeting schedule as what’s been traditionally the calendar-- the first and third Wednesday evenings of each month.  There was discussion about going to one daytime meeting-- but in the end--the evening sessions, with meetings beginning at 6:30 p.m.  were continued.
In appointments:

The Park Board has an opening for the 5th district (Robinson’s)which was not on the agenda for the organizational meeting,  and the county park board opening in George McMahon’s district was filled by re-appointing Gregg Carlson.

The East Central Regional Library seat was filled by appointing Patricia Frank.

Nobody applied for two open seats on the U of M Extension Committee.  The expired seats are for Commissioner Districts one and three.
The Planning Commission openings were filled by re-appointing David Whitney, with Frank Storm appointed for now serving as fifth district representative. Chip Yeager was also appointed to fill Storm’s seat which he recently vacated when he moved to Rush City.

All EDA/HRA members were re-appointed unanimously.

Board of Adjustment seats went to John Sutcliffe and Gregg Carlson.

 The Board was asked to approve a staff recommendation for Human Resources Department officials to continue to oversee hiring, firing and promotions and review of employee performance-- but the commissioners asked to layover action until the whole process can be looked at in a workshop.

The Board will meet and review the request and see if the best approach is to return to pre-2012 practices;  where the County Board handled personnel measures and had more input into the system,  or if the Human Resources Director recommendations should be followed.

Bruce Messelt, County Administrator, reminded the Board the Human Resources authorities were first tied to the hiring freeze era-- which has been lifted. He told the Board the staff oversight of personnel actions was also initiated to expedite matters, because the Board would basically require three meetings to hire somebody.  First advertising would be approved, then a candidate would be brought at a certain starting salary, and then a hire approved.  Messelt said the Board has alternatively received a quarterly report on personnel status the last few years.

Commissioner Mike Robinson said he’d like some more say in the hiring and firing and that he feels the Board is being “left out.”

Commissioner Ben Montzka agreed that the process could be reviewed to determine if “best practices” are being put to use.  

The Health and Human Services contract needs were added so action could be taken Tuesday on priority contracted services.

The Board heard that social services demands are growing as the population increases in the county and where there were some 45 children in protective services programs a few years ago-- there are 94 in out-of-home placement currently.

HHS Director Nancy Dahlin added that she expects this to “hang around 100” from now on.

The non-profit Family Pathways supervisor services for custodial and non-custodial parent visits, was approved for cases in the Child Protective Services realm.  

Commissioner Montzka, a family law practitioner,  also requested there be investigation into finding services for supervised child exchanges, etc. for families that are not in court ordered protective mode-- but whose volatile relationships present potential for situations to escalate.

Also-- Canvas Health was approved for providing a host of mental health and addictive assessments and counseling programs, and Lighthouse Child and Family Services and TSA contracts were authorized.

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